Max Garcia, Co-founder High Six
The first industrial revolutions enabled humanity to strive and gain freedom by multiplying its strength, productivity, outreach.
We have been able to catalyze learning, sharing and communicating.
We have gradually been able to dictate where we live, what we eat, what we spend our time on. We gained more freedom… But at what cost?
Constant growth in a finite world simply cannot work when growth means that we are tapping into fossil resources.
Global warming, land domestication, clean water crisis… our impact on the world since WWII has been such that we have entered a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. Our behavior and exponential growth have been at the expense of the world we live in.
Today, we must act to invert the curve and work towards a more circular, sustainable model.
The trajectory was set at the Paris agreement (COP 21) in 2015 to reduce carbon emissions by 3,3% every year until 2030.
Every year that passes with no action is making the trajectory steeper.
If we are not acting now to alleviate our impact on the planet, we will be constrained to do it. And this will be much less fun!
What does construction have to do with it?
The industry was responsible for approximately 40% of the global CO2 emissions in 2018. It accounts for 50% (approximately 400M tons) of all natural resource extraction worldwide. It totals 16% of global freshwater consumption and 25% of global waste.
Did you know that the majority of timber waste in construction comes from concrete sites?
Counter-intuitively, this is less due to the material than the methodology employed.
Timber as a technology lends itself super well to prefabrication techniques due to its versatility, easy handling, low-tech processing and the high customization opportunities.
With prefabrication we can considerably add value to the product offering in the form of pre-assembled structures, pre-insulated and water-tight floor slabs or even fully functional building envelope elements. These can come together at varying levels of prefabrication depending on the project features (from kit of parts to ready-to-commission volumetric modules).
While this value creation process is carried out in a safer, controlled manufacturing environment where there is no impact from rain/snow or the cycles of day light, we can also control waste with much better yield.
Today, the timber construction ecosystem is diverse, robust and expands while creating environmental and social impact with healthier, more sustainable infrastructure.
Decades of sustainable forest management and timber engineering have created an opportunity to push the boundaries of what engineered timber can do: higher-rise, larger-scale, improved architectural flexibility, more predictable performance, accuracy and durability.
However, its potential is not yet fully unlocked.
Construction projects are developed and managed with a fragmentation that eliminate most of the channels for collaboration. Goals and incentives differ between the stakeholders of the value chain which – unwillingly – carry their work in an isolated fashion. The interfaces between building components (wall to foundation, MEP integration, etc.) and between scopes of work are confusing by design and left to solve on site.
The unfortunate consequence of this is information asymmetry between decision makers and technology providers that affects the ideation, integration and validation of design. It limits the ability to express architectural creativity as well as benefiting from value engineering towards the end-product performance. The traditional, late-stage tender process involves a transfer of technical responsibility at the procurement phase which does not allow for enough technical definition (let alone a design freeze) in due time.
High Six was founded to offer a fresh methodology to these long-standing challenges.
The tension between planning and doing has to be resolved.
The loss of value mentioned is avoidable by adjusting the construction procurement process as well as solicitating the right expertise upstream to unlock optimisations, integrate return on experience and help improve on project predictability.
For us, it is fundamental to introduce better technical definition in projects with our consortium of design-build partners to better inform and strengthen decision making.
Enabling adaptability within this process involves employing a platform approach and a focus on continuous improvement by not considering projects as one-off prototypes but as products that are flexible in form and function.
“It’s not rocket science!?”
We should take inspiration and learn from other industries, but with a grain of salt.
Engineered-to-order products that result from a multitude of design choices and local regulatory constraints (i.e. buildings) should use a different production strategy than the more engineering driven industries such as aerospace or automotive.
The parallel that we identify with these industries lies with the system engineering approach that consider buildings as integrated systems made of technical of sub-systems: superstructure, services, envelope. In this approach, complexity is designed out via augmented collaboration (BIM synthesis) and simplified interfaces (modular design).
We think that it is possible to further leverage the potential of timber construction.
The most sustainable development is the valorisation of the infrastructure that exists already. However, given the expanding demographics and large movements of population, it is clear that a tremendous volume of new construction is required. It is critical that all new constructions are defined with strong resiliency and low carbon objectives at the outset and developed to a lean, effective process.
Industrialisation has been powering the behaviors that developed the climate crisis. In construction, if carefully managed, it could be this time a vector of salvation.
In our vision – the future of real estate is bio-sourced, adaptable and shared.
The last decade was fruitful for the sector in terms of research, innovation, experiential learning and knowledge transfer.
Our direction is set on the interfaces of friction and an effective use of technology to create equilibrium between productivity, energy efficiency and architectural beauty. For the new decade, we unite with like-minded organisations such as Ergodomus to build upon this advance towards a more sustainable built environment via the industrialisation of low carbon projects.
Let’s talk collaboration!
High Six Short Bio
After having acquired experience on all levels of the construction value chain, from specialist engineering, mass timber supply to modular design-build and general contracting, Aubin, Mathieu and Max founded High Six in 2020 to boost the delivery of low-carbon projects. Contracted by property developers, they are putting their complementary skillset at the service of a novel design-build approach leveraging holistic design management, low carbon and offsite construction technologies for enhanced environmental credentials, quality and profitability.