Can Modular and Offsite Construction Be a Safe Way to Bring More Housing to Market in the UK?
The recently issued draft government paper ‘A Reformed Building Safety Regulatory System’ responds to Dame Judith Hackitt’s post-Grenfell Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety and subsequent Building a Safer Future consultation.
The former is a document that will directly or indirectly change the way many buildings both new and refurbished are procured, designed, approved, constructed, and managed.
A radical change to the construction industry’s culture towards building safety needs to occur. Tom Greenhaigh, Minister for Building Safety, indicated that the Government is hoping to usher in a shift toward more modern methods of construction.
In particular, it seems there is an appetite toward an offsite systematic approach, which could lead to an increase in building safety through the emphasis on more reliable and accurate manufacturing processes.
The increase in offsite and modular construction, volumetric or non-volumetric, can only be a good thing for the country going forward and we at Entuitive look forward to continuing to play our part in its future growth.
In the UK, we are currently working with Alumno Developments on a panelized project, building 70 units of student accommodations over four floors, called Falmer Cottages on the outskirts of Brighton. We are providing post-planning civil and structural engineering services on this lightweight steelwork, semi-modular structure for the student rooms with structural steelwork, and reinforced concrete adopted for the transfer element. This project is currently under construction.
We have another upcoming student housing scheme called Lewes Road. We’re also working with Alumno Developments on this project, also located in Brighton. The renderings, designed by Greenway Architects, promise a dynamic design. It will house 70+ students and feature an elegantly carved roof and an expressive façade. The project should progress to construction in the New Year. Due to the re-use of existing sub-structure, the use of a very light-weight steel panelised system is the preferred option.
In North America, we are currently working with Z Modular on a five-storey volumetric modular building that will provide accommodation for 512 students on the St. Clair College Campus in Windsor, Ontario. The building includes lounge areas on each level and a large dining hall at the ground floor. We are providing structural engineering services for the volumetric modules and the building foundations. This project is currently under construction.
We also recently completed a project called Cheatham Street Flats also with Z Modular, which is a 143-unit, 245-bed student residence in San Marcos, Texas. The project features four levels of volumetric modular construction comprising 360 modules on top of a composite steel and concrete parking structure, utilizing offsite construction methodologies. At the main entrance, a structural steel transfer system was used to create a grand entrance and a large open-air amenity space. We are providing structural engineering services for the volumetric modules and the structural steel transfer system.
Entuitive is also currently in the design phase with EllisDon Modular on several affordable housing and long-term care facility projects.
Looking forward, Entuitive will continue to develop the most appropriate technical solutions, including in-house design of various types of offsite and modular solutions.
With its systematic approach, offsite and modular design can facilitate a move toward safer buildings in the UK and across all markets.