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Global collaboration leads to new Sino-UK Centre of Excellence in Digital Construction


UK and Chinese experts in advanced digital construction technology have convened at the University of Huddersfield and agreed to form a new Sino-UK Centre of Excellence. 

It means that leading construction firms and academic specialists in both countries will meet and pool their research and expertise in fields such as building information modelling, virtual and mixed reality and data sensing.  These digital technologies are of increasing importance to modern construction and building maintenance.

The new Sino-UK Centre of Excellence for Digital Construction has its origins in a Memorandum of Understanding signed 12 months ago between the University of Huddersfield and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

The latter is ranked as one of the leading higher education institutions in China and the world and its School of Civil Engineering has a particularly high reputation for technology, engineering and construction. 

The University of Huddersfield’s  School of Art, Design and Architecture is establishing itself as a major centre for the study and research of architecture and the built environment, and it has academics who are global experts in cutting-edge techniques and technologies, such as those that the new Sino-UK Centre of Excellence will focus on.

The link between the two universities led to a three-day UK-China Digital Construction Workshop, held recently at the University of Huddersfield. It had delegates from six UK universities and three from construction firms and consultancies. There were also participants from four Chinese universities and institutes – including Tsinghua – and from some of the country’s largest building firms, including Beijing Urban Construction Group Corporation and China State Construction.

The Digital Construction Workshop included a sequence of discussion sessions and keynote addresses, including a talk on the development of Building Information Modelling Development in China from Professor Zhiliang Ma of Tsinghua University.

A key figure in the link between Huddersfield and Tsinghua is Song Wu, who is Professor in Surveying and IT at Huddersfield. He is an expert in computer modelling and simulation in the built and human environment. He has held a UK-China Fellowship for Excellence and has worked closely with Tsinghua’s Professor Ma.

Professor Wu said that the decision to launch the Sino-UK Centre of Excellence for Digital Construction was a key outcome from the workshop. “Both sides were very keen to collaborate,” he said. The next meeting of the Centre will be in China in 2018, hosted by the Beijing Urban Construction Group. It is expected that most of the delegates who came to the Huddersfield workshop will also attend its follow-up in Beijing.

The theme of the UK-China Digital Construction Workshop was the integration of data, information, and knowledge in the lifecycle of a building or infrastructure facility. It focused on the demonstration of the capabilities of various digital technologies to enable sophisticated and integrated design, improvement of construction productivity and safety in both countries. The aim was to establish collaborative partnership between the two countries, and meet the future challenges both in research and industrial practice.

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