Office space going modular

11Oct12

by Jon Pickard and William Chilton @ Design Intelligence

The Office Building of the Future

A Shift Toward Modular Construction

One of the most significant conclusions from the study is that, while the OBF will be unique, site-specific, and responsive to its environment, it can be efficiently developed through an advanced system of modular building. An innovative modular system offers the adaptability, efficiency and economy necessary to balance the owner’s business objectives with the well-being and productivity of employees or tenants and the appropriate use of natural resources. Modular construction merges high-tech BIM and the simple concept that eliminating excess saves money.

A modular building system offers significant economic advantages including shorter construction time (due to speed of erection, negligible weather delays and increased structural efficiency) and greater cost control as a result of the following: a highly efficient manufacturing and construction process with an increased number of more skilled workers, fewer subcontractors and reduced overhead cost and material redundancy. The system allows for efficient off-site construction in controlled environments that offers greater tolerances and higher quality control.

Every major building component is considered for its potential as a modular unit that can be fabricated in a factory and sized to be easily transported by truck, delivered to the site and assembled by a smaller workforce. As units are shipped after being manufactured, they do not require a significant staging area on site prior to construction. With a faster construction period than the typical office building, the system will result in short- and long-term cost savings as well as earlier building occupancy.

A Prototype for the Modular Office

Previous attempts to realize quality commercial construction with modular building did not prove viable because they did not deliberately align a strong concept of modularization with the realities of building materials and construction processes. In the case of the OBF, the fine-grain details of building systems and logistics have been carefully considered to produce a new methodology of construction that is feasible in both concept and practice. The modular system is inherently flexible, able to accommodate a variety of building systems and capable of being assembled into a range of building forms with a variety of architectural expressions.

It was determined that a 45-foot-wide floorplate would offer the most flexibility and that the unit design would maintain a floor-to-floor height of 13 feet. With more efficient plenum spaces in the ceiling and floor deployed more effectively, space is freed up to produce significantly higher ceiling heights. To meet goals of sustainability and quality, it was assumed that this floorplate, with operable glazing on both sides, would be the basic formation of all building massing strategies, and thus the modular “kit of parts” is devised for this configuration.

Read the full article here

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