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News archive - January 2015

From ‘ugly grey box’ to state-of-the-art buildings

From ‘ugly grey box’ to state-of-the-art buildings

If you think back to your school days, you will no doubt remember lessons being taught in draughty, leaking prefabricated classrooms that were meant to be temporary, but were often still in use decades later.

Fast forward and modular buildings of this type are now commonplace in major developments including hospitals and health centres.

But today’s solutions are a far cry from those we endured in our youth.

This evolution is outlined in a new report from The Portakabin Group, a leading supplier of modular buildings to the UK health and social care sec tors.

Entitled Exploding the Myths of Modular Construction, the paper is the latest in a series of free guides that aim to silence critics and help estates and facilities managers get the best out of their projects.

Kevin Jones, director of business development at the Portakabin Group, said: “Modular construction has changed radically over the past 60 years, so it can be difficult to tell just what is fact or fiction when it comes to assessing the approach, and whether it is suitable for a particular project.

“Add to that the diversity of suppliers - from sellers of low-value second-hand cabins, to manufacturers of multi-storey, purpose-designed landmark buildings - and the ingrained perception issues that stem from our childhoods, and it is easy to see why the picture is confusing.

“This myth-busting report addresses some of the most-common misconceptions about modular construction to help organisations and specifiers in the healthcare sector have a much-clearer understanding about the potential of this highly-efficient alternative to site-based building methods.”

He added: “The reality with a modular solution is that the construction process is simply being moved off site and into a controlled factory environment. The building materials, such as the steel frame, remain the same, and modular schemes generally have to meet exactly the same building regulations and standards as facilities built using site-based methods. However, the benefits include improved quality, much greater certainty of completion on time and on budget, programme times reduced by up to 50%, and significantly less disruption on site.”

Applications for modular solutions are diverse, he revealed, and include open-plan office accommodation, landmark headquarters buildings, training suites, health centres and ward buildings, surgical facilities, teaching blocks, and even complete hospitals, both for permanent and interim applications.

Among the myths challenged within the report are: Modular means temporary, modular is all about ugly grey boxes, and modular construction is inflexible and restrictive in design and aesthetics.

It also explores the latest advancements in modular technology, including invisible columns to help create a seamless façade; the option of angled corners; a wide choice of window and fenestration options; and the availability of sustainability features including low-carbon equipment.

And there is a list of facts and useful hints and tips.

The report states: “The reality is you are just changing the building process. Think ‘production, rather than ‘construction. This actually means better quality because the process is not subject to poor weather, which can cause serious quality issues post completion, as well as a greater risk of delays and budget overruns.”

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