The concept of modular construction has been with us for a long time. However, economic and cultural factors have contributed to the fact that in Poland, it is still often regarded as an architectural novelty. Nevertheless, this doesn’t deter architects and investors who, recognizing the advantages of this technology, consistently implement its principles in their projects, thereby popularizing modular buildings in residential and commercial construction.
Modular Technology in Construction: What Is It?
As the name suggests, modular construction is based on modules. Modules are prefabricated components prepared in such a way that they can be transported to the construction site by one or more means of transportation from the factory. These modules allow for the straightforward assembly of buildings with various floor areas. Prefabricated components used in modular construction are created in controlled conditions within production halls. This enables production to be independent of weather conditions while simultaneously providing components of much higher quality than traditional technologies allow. The prefabrication process speeds up the construction of buildings but doesn’t compromise the comfort of living or conducting long-term business activities. The belief that modular construction is temporary and doesn’t provide suitable living or working conditions is a misconception.
Designing a Modular Building
Modular technology requires a slightly different approach to design. During the design phase, the building must be divided into sections that correspond to prefabricated building modules, which are manufactured in production facilities in 90% of cases. These modules are then transported to their destination and assembled to form a solid structure.
During the production phase (prefabrication), modules are equipped with all the installations, interior walls, and finishing elements specified in the project. In practice, this means that construction work on the construction site is limited to:
- connecting installations,
- complementary finishing work.
Modular vs. Container Construction
Modular construction is often mistakenly associated with container construction. This stems from the similarity in the shape of the elements used in both technologies—rectangular prisms with self-supporting structures. Container construction utilizes shipping containers, which, as demonstrated by completed projects, offer a range of design and layout possibilities and can be successfully used for even ambitious projects. In modular construction, we use prefabricated components created based on steel load-bearing structures and other construction and finishing materials.
Applications of Modular Systems
Modular construction is very popular worldwide. Due to its purpose, modular systems can be divided into several basic functional groups, including:
- residential buildings,
- public facilities,
- commercial buildings,
- military structures.
An increasingly popular application of modular construction is combining modular technology with traditional construction. This can be seen, for instance, in the construction of hotels where PODs (prefabricated bathrooms) are installed.