Gone are the days when “modular buildings” meant construction trailers and portable schoolrooms. The modular design industry has been slowly evolving over the last few decades and is now poised to become the construction method of choice for sustainable, affordable and beautiful buildings.
Modular Construction is…
Modular construction is a building process that occurs away from the construction site, usually in a warehouse setting. The building parts – or modules – are created within a controlled interior setting and are protected from exterior elements. Materials are stored and used in dry, temperate conditions, which prevents twisting and warping and thus eliminates waste. Once the modules are complete, they are shipped to the construction site and assembled into one integrated building.
In today’s increasingly eco-conscious building construction industry, the biggest draw of modular buildings is perhaps the high level of sustainability in each stage. As mentioned, the factory setting reduces the amount of waste produced, meaning less strain on resources and less excess material sent to the landfill. Plus, less construction site activity and disturbances further promotes a more sustainable process.
Just as reduced waste and less on-site disturbance mean a more sustainable construction process, it also means a reduced timeframe and lower overall costs. Modular construction teams work in a controlled setting using repetitive techniques and convenient equipment. This efficiency greatly decreases both labour and building expenses.
Because each module of a building is individually engineered to withstand travel from warehouse to the site, they are generally sturdier than the materials used in conventional stick-built construction – meaning the completed structure is stronger overall.
Off-site construction removes a significant amount of activity from the job site and places it in a highly controlled and monitored setting where tradespeople work in a safe, clean and well-lit environment, reducing on-site accidents and injuries. Also, traffic in and around the jobsite is reduced, creating less vehicular congestion for both workers and individuals travelling nearby.
While modular construction truly is faster, more sustainable and more affordable than the stick-building process, it has been slow to gain popularity largely due to misconceptions about quality. The idea that modulars are best as temporary trailers and portables has lingered. So too has the belief that modular design doesn’t look as good as traditionally constructed buildings. However, recent projects such as New York City’s 461 Dean Luxury Apartments and Oklahoma City’s AC Hotel prove that modular buildings can be just as modern and stunning as non-modular.
Today’s modular companies are able to create highly customized designs that look just as beautiful as traditionally constructed buildings, incorporating the latest trends in exterior finishing. While it’s recommended that architects and owners decide on modular construction early in the design process, most modular companies can take a conventional building design and create a modular version. Modular buildings are also incredibly versatile and panelized construction architecture is perfect for all forms of residential, industrial and commercial design such as homes, schools, hospitals, office buildings, warehouses, retail shops, restaurants, hotels and the list goes on and on!