Every now and then, the construction industry decides it needs to pull its socks up. A bit of research reveals that we first did this in 1934 when architect Alfred Bossom published his book Reaching for the Skies.
Bossom had been to the US and seen efficient teams of people building skyscrapers. In Britain, he noted,
“the process of construction, instead of being an orderly and consecutive advance down the line, is all too apt
to become a scramble and a muddle.”
Looking at Crossrail, it's fair to say we’ve taken Bossom’s comments on board. But it’s taken a while, hasn’t it? Mark Farmer’s 2016 report (see p5) highlights a lot of the problems Sir John Egan identified 18 years ago: not enough training, not enough prefabrication, not enough focus on profitability. So what’s different?
History says “not much”, though things are improving. Despite Farmer’s warning, construction won’t die. But neither will it modernise as quickly as he would like.