Offsite Construction Opens New Doors For Architects
Off-sight construction is a relatively new development, helping to meet the cost, time and space demands of rapidly expanding urban populations. Off-sight construction means pre-fabricating a structure or dwelling and then transporting it to the final location for installation.
In the past, this technique was used for many interior components, such as kitchen counters or shower units. But over time, technology has scaled to allow for entire modules and even buildings to be constructed away from their final locations, before being transported there.
This method, while it might seem counterproductive, has many benefits. It saves time, production costs, and space which can be vital in busy, packed cities or for cash strapped or time sensitive applications, such as schools. Modular, off-site construction is already extremely popular in Europe, particularly in Sweden. The movement is slowly taking off in the US as well.
Certain applications are particularly suited to off-site modular construction, particularly hotels and schools. For the latter, this allows eternally cash strapped school systems to grow with their student population or implement building upgrades without having to spend a fortune on new infrastructure.
For hotels, it also makes perfect sense. Room modules are built off-site with everything in them, including furniture, fixtures, and infrastructure, pre-installed. The modules are then transported to the final sight and fitted together. The whole process is reminiscent of building with Legos.
This process allows multiple room and suite types to be easily created. Most importantly it allows the hotel to be completed incredibly quickly, meaning it opens sooner and the company gets a quicker return on investment. This solves an age-old problem of excess building time and cost causing the project to run out of money and close before completion.
As with anything, this method also has downsides, particularly for the people and industries that supported traditional construction methods. All these on-site services such as the interior framers and painters are now rendered virtually obsolete. It is also only cost effective if the fabrication site is within a relatively close distance to the final building site, less of a problem in Europe than it is in the US. Still, it seems that due to the low cost, speed, and flexibility, off-site construction is becoming the future for many building applications.