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This lecture is about the role construction plays in the development of society (which is very different depending on the stage of development of a society), the perception of construction’s relevance to society, and the consequent appreciation by society of construction as an industry.

In most European countries the capacity of the built environment is now more or less in line with what is minimally required. The construction industry’s share of the GNP has gone down, and the perceived relevance of our industry to continued growth of society has more or less permanently decreased during the past decade, along with the political support for our industry. Even the realisation of the crucial role our industry could play in solving the recent international economic crisis seems to have been only temporarily.

It is time for the construction industry to redefine itself and enhance again its societal relevance. It will need to focus its effort on maximising the contribution to the main societal challenges, re-engineering its design and production processes, and develop new product and service concepts.

Professor Wim Bakens

Professor Wim Bakens is Secretary General, CIB – International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction. CIB is an international association whose objectives are to stimulate and facilitate international collaboration and information exchange between organisations active in the field of building and construction research and innovation. Professor Bakens is also a Visiting Professor to the University of Westminster’s school of Architecture and the Built Environment.

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