Every great idea has its time…and this is modular construction’s moment
All radical concepts have their moment, and after a sustained period of resurgence, Modular Construction is on the threshold of a game-changing breakthrough. Demand for modular technologies has tripled in the last five years (www.modular.org). We’re currently living through a perfect storm of cutting-edge construction metrics, set to place dinosaur construction firmly on its back: no more bricks and mortar muddles, concrete girdled waste, rusting steelwork, and clogged up supply chains: everything, in short, that’s consistently made last century construction look exactly what it is: the biggest single contributor to industrial waste on the planet.
So, let’s make no bones about it anymore, and as Bob Dylan most assuredly said it more eloquently, the times are changing…
Across the Globe, more and more Governments and private sector agencies are turning to Modular Construction as a platform for delivering affordable homes, offices, hospitals and schools: everything we need to meet the core demands of these millennial times. And, in particular, those same governments and private agencies are recognising, more than ever before, that this isn’t any time to revive the risk-averse, stuck-in-the-mud mindset that caused, for example, the cancellation of the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2 last week…No, we need more major infrastructure projects, not less, and with 1.6 Billion of our fellow citizens currently either homeless or living in severe housing needs worldwide (www.oecd.org), we need more affordable housing too…that goes without saying (but I’m going to tell it anyway).
In short, construction projects need to get with the times, work with emerging technologies (not against them), and be ready to deliver with a greater focus on the societal and environmental demands of our rapidly evolving times.
Because all those dinosaur developers were never under any pressure to innovate workable solutions to labour shortages (particularly those generated by COVID lockdown restrictions), never pressed seriously to deliver on time, let alone on budget, and, for them at least, institutionally predisposed to respond to supply chain constraints by adding a few more smoke-belching trucks to our already congested highways, snaking their polluting way through to inner city building sites.
That’s no way to build a sustainable future for the generations coming after us…nothing like it.
But don’t just take my word for it: since 2018, there has been a 51% increase in demand for modular technologies within the construction sector (see above): previous shortages in skilled labour (exacerbated by the pandemic), are now being naturally accommodated through more localised modular production and pre-assembly platforms; and, perhaps most of all, working to deliver those much-needed buildings (affordable homes, new schools and hospitals, as well as flexible office premises) twice as quickly, and more than 50% less expensively, than old fashioned dinosaur contractors could ever hope to match.
That has to be a good thing…so we should all be grateful Modular has found its moment.
There’s usually something new under the Sun (despite opinions to the contrary), and Modular Construction is no exception…