The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Friday, 20 July 2018 01:00

Modular construction: An uprising project method

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Modular construction: An uprising project method Modular construction: An uprising project method

Expects believe it is time to replace the conventional way a construction project is executed with a promising method called Modular Construction.

"Modular" is a method of construction differing from other methods of building. The module sections are constructed at an off site (sometimes, remote) facility, then delivered to the intended site of use. Complete construction of the prefabricated sections are completed on site. The prefabricated sections are sometimes lifted and placed on basement walls using a crane, the module prefabricated sections are set onto the building's foundation and joined together to make a single building. The modules can be placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked, allowing a wide variety of configurations and styles in the building layout. Formerly, the method was known as prefabrication and did not have a spotless reputation. It was used to build quickly and on constrained sites which tended to be small, unattractive and poorly finished. They were only meant to last 10 years and that any have survived at all is a testament to conservationists.

Nevertheless, modular construction has changed nowadays. It has become a method that can bring the advantages of modern industrialized manufacturing to the construction sector. The concept is based on manufacturing fractions of complete buildings or highly finished panels in factories and transporting them to site in order to be assembled.
The key benefits of this procedure are:

  1. The ability to control the environment inside the factory
  2. The usage of the most up-to-date digital design and manufacturing tools
  3. The quality control of the manufacturing industry


AECOM is an engineering infrastructure firm expertising in modular construction. In AECOM's case, these modules would be large: Flint, chief executive of buildings and places at AECOM explained that its prototype two-bedroom apartment is assembled from two modules: "You're building a box, you're fitting out, and you're cladding it. The boxes are built in the factory, finished. Then they are wrapped up, protected, lifted into place, and you need to do a little bit of work connecting up and joining them together: sit them on the slab in the right location, plug into services, and where the boxes join there is a little bit of site work required just to seal it up and finish the junction." AECOM uses a lightweight, steel-framed structure to keep the weight of the finished modules low enough for them to be lifted and transported easily. 

Another giant corporation, Autodesk, is now focusing around helping its customers produce digital designs and working out how to give those designs physical form. Sarah Hodges, Autodesk's senior director for construction business strategy stated: "What we think about here is industrialized construction. We think of that as having three main components. The first is design for manufacture. The second component is what happens in the factory in terms of prefabrication and modular construction, and the third is what happens on the construction site itself. So we seamlessly design directly for manufacture, we manufacture the component in the factory, and then we install it on site."

Last but not least, it is essential to point out that off-site construction is a way to build projects in less affected areas, and to provide workers with safer working conditions in a prefab factory than out in the field.


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Modular Construction

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