UMC Architects are proud to have been commissioned by Property Week & Savills to produce a concept design for a future fulfilment centre that is ‘innovative, creative, forward-thinking and not constrained by the usual institutional standards’. No budget was specified and the brief was kept deliberately scant to encourage expression.
The beehive will be the metaphor for our concept which is titled ‘Logistics 2049’. Current automation dictates limits in verticality, thereby creating land-hungry solutions, so the development will be super-automation moving goods multi-dimensionally within large flexible spaces for multiple users. Such efficiencies will mean goods to warehouse volumes will increase tenfold. The modular nature will allow this to grow organically in addition to verticality being driven by location and inherent land values.
Battery technology will enable inbound top-loading driverless trucks to service the facility at lower ground level, all bulk parked with limited marshalling, feeding goods up into the vertical stacking grid. This storage volume will be serviced by AI robotic picking to optimise ‘just in time’ delivery. Despatch will be supplemented by output from 3d printing cells, driven from a bolt-on operational hub staffed by a limited number of technologists and engineers monitoring time critical flows and maintenance requirements.
Storage will feed to dual-despatch, with drone-to-customer at high level and smaller top-loaded driverless electric trucks to serve the last mile delivery at low level. The bulk nature of top-loading vehicle technology will eliminate the need for large service yards meaning site densities are maximised.
An intelligent chameleon envelope will include south-facing solar cells which will be combined with heat recovered energy from the space and utilised to drive the automation. Increased height will enable intelligent stack ventilation and cooling of the equipment to prevent overheating.
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