Monday, November 27, 2017

What Happens in Hong Kong Won’t Stay in Hong Kong for Long

The Hong Kong construction industry wants the government to adopt modular construction in public housing as it is three times faster than traditional methods.

According to the manager of the new Construction Innovation and Technology Application Centre, Penny Lau Wai-leong, modular construction is safer, faster, cheaper and less wasteful.

In simple terms modular construction means making buildings in parts off-site, then fitting them together on-site.

Lau explained that labor intensive processes such as interior decoration can be accomplished in an off-site prefabrication yard, then the modules will be transported to the site for installation. Lau said modular construction can enhance productivity, site safety, quality of work and cost-effectiveness, cut construction time and reduce waste.

Taking Crowne Plaza at Singapore Changi Airport as an example, he said the construction of the hotel only took four to five months to finish with modular construction, compared with 11/2 years by traditional methods.

"There are 10 stories in the hotel with 243 rooms. Manufacture of room facilities, bathrooms, water pipes and air-conditioners was finished in a prefabrication yard, then they were put into use after installation at the construction sites and connected to pipes and wires."

The center, which opened on Wednesday, introduces several new building technologies to Hong Kong, including modular construction and bathroom modules.

Lau said that on average modular construction accelerated architectural works by 40-50 percent and is widely used in many countries for buildings higher than 20 stories.

He believed the method would be suitable for residential buildings, dormitories, hospitals and retirement homes, and even public housing.

The Housing Department has been using modules for the building structure, but not for interiors, Lau said.

"There are no precedents for such practices in Hong Kong, and developers dare not apply the method without past examples. CIC did a survey in the industry. While they widely believe modular construction is practical, they are concerned about problems regarding transport, costs and construction quality," Lau said.

He said the government was cooperating with CIC in promoting modular construction, and will try to use the method in public housing to set an example for developers.

The 100,000-square-foot center is on the ground floor of the CIC's Kowloon Bay Training Centre.

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