Perhaps the most exciting of the projects is our work with, Roken Al Khalig Development LLC, with whom we are developing the design of the first high rise PPVC building in the region. Over the last six months, we have been appointed by Roken Al Khalig to engage with the Abu Dhabi Municipality to develop a road map for the approval of PPVC systems. This is the first step in clearing any obstacles which may lie in the way of a major shift in the way buildings are built in the Middle East.
Roken Al Khalig Development LLC plan to construct one modular residential tower and one hotel tower of 130m (36 floors) and 138m (40 floors) respectively, accommodating car parking; retail and amenities. This landmark development will be located on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi.
Modular construction and the adoption of off-site manufacture for on-site assembly is a key part of the global construction productivity agenda. While modular construction has been adopted in Europe, Asia and the United States, this typology of construction technology is relatively new to the Middle East. Roken Al Khalig Development LLC is taking the bold step of being one of the first to adopt the modular philosophy at a large scale for the Maryah Island Complex project.
There is no doubt that PPVC offers construction time savings. The erection process is greatly simplified with the majority of the work having been completed in the factory prior to being transported to the site. This is not just limited to the structural works. The MEP and fit-out works can also be largely completed prior to erection.
Ramboll prides itself on being a market leader in the field of sustainability and so it is no surprise that the sustainability advantages which modular construction can offer over its conventional counterpart make it a key focus area for our company. Modular construction, and in particular PPVC, offers benefits on a range of fronts, including reduced waste, reduced transportation, reduced labour, better energy performance due to improved quality of construction, reduced cost and time and the possibility of wholly or partially re-using the modules. The social impact of PPVC can also not be underestimated as it is ideally suited to low-cost housing developments.
Ramboll previously carried out a case study for a project in the UK to compare the greenhouse gas emissions between conventional construction and modular construction. The study showed that modular construction can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% and an eventual ‘carbon dioxide payback’ for the whole project was expected in under 12 years.
Cost of Construction
Ramboll has been working together alongside other key partners over several years in Singapore to understand the business case for PPVC construction fully. One of the challenges that PPVC faces is that the upfront capital cost of construction is in fact higher, especially when first introduced to the market, than conventional construction. This can make it unattractive to some developers. However, this does not consider the shortened time frame, the sustainable benefits and the socio-economic impact of diverging from a low skilled migrant workforce to a highly-skilled local workforce. The initial cost premium can range from 20-25%, but as the market and supply chain develops (encouraged by Government incentive schemes in the case of Singapore), this premium drops to 10-12% and is continuing to fall.
Modular Construction during COVID-19 crisis
COVID-19 has had a profound impact on how businesses are run. One of the main impacts has been the need to drastically reduce the need for large numbers of workers to be working in close proximity with one another. Consequently, the opportunity for PPVC is clear as the ‘norm’ shifts from dependence on large numbers of low skilled workers in a relatively uncontrolled environment to a small number of skilled workers working in a controlled factory environment.
Benefits of Modular Construction
The benefits that modular construction can offer are simply too great to ignore any longer. The UAE in particular, well renowned for being a forward-thinking nation, is ready for such a shift in construction methodologies and the aspects of modular construction, including; it’s long term economic advantages, it’s environmental benefits, it’s non-reliance on high volumes of low skilled labour and it’s suitability for affordable housing align it very well with the visions for the future outlined by the different Emirates within the UAE.