Saturday, April 23, 2005

INTEGER SEMINAR 21/04/05 on MMC, Part I

One of the very professional bodies, INTEGER had run a Seminar which was being held in BRE, Watford, particularly located in one of their famous building, the Building 16 Conference Room (how it still fresh in my mind that I chose this particular building for a specific module in my final year undergraduate study - Environmental Performance- and done a presentation about it), known for its sustainable mixed mode ventilation. However, little I know that experiencing it first hand doesn't always be the same as hearing it nor learning it from text books..which I will mention about it a bit later (probably in my next post). Now, back to the point..

The seminar, which last for about 6 hours (from 10am to 4pm with a coffee break and a lunch break in the middle) has been divided into several presentations from various different professional bodies, being opened and introduced by Alan Kell, the Managing Director of i&i Limited (INTEGER Intelligent and Green Ltd). Professional bodies taking part as the speakers includes Jaya Skandamoorthy from BRE, Damian Bree from Bree Day Partnership, Andy Parkman from Fabermaunsell, Mike Braband from Unite Group, Tom de Saulles from The Concrete Centre, Dr Michael Sansom from The Steel Construction Institute, and Darren Richards from MTech Group. Unfortunately, the key person that I had been looking forward to hear wasn't turning up and that is Paul Newman from TRADA Technology. Hopefully I will be able to meet him on the other time.

First presentation by Mr Skandamoorthy from BRE has outlined the definition, policies and need for modern methods of construction and the importance of its sustainability for future development.

The first session of the seminar then continued with the Design Perspective given by Mr Bree from Bree Day Partnership which underlined the key drivers of MMC, the outline advantages of MMC and Bree Day's Alpine Close case study designed and cosntructed using prefabricated timber frame wall panels (closed panel wall construction), timber floor cassettes, and Pods. Mr Bree also mentioned a very interesting example of prefabricated housing from Japan, called Misawa Homes, which provided by Toyota as Japan's 3rd largest single family homebuilder offering quality orientated homes. However, it's very unfortunate that when I visited the website, apparently they were not providing the English translation and without my Japanese best friend, Mari- whom unfortunately is away on holiday at the moment- I need to settled and 'just be happy' by looking at their high tech and well presented pictures...

Back to the point then, after the coffee break, Andy Parkman from the Fabermaunsell had presented the MMC through the engineer's perspective. Andy had quickly run through Fabermaunsell's recent practical experience in the South West area which includes Livarot Walk, RNLI Headquarters Poole, Bristol School, Cornwall and Plymouth, lift Frameworks, Unite Accommodation, Heathrow Travel Inn and Future Inns, all of which being built with sustainable design and construction in mind. Varies type of MMC has been put into practice in the above mentioned project. Livarot walk, for example, has incorporated solar water heating system while RNLI Headquarters has been using hybrid structure. Fabermaunsell had also worked in collaboration with Unite to design an accommodation built on several generated modules. Prefabrication also being embraced for their Heathrow Travel Inn project by using volumetric modular timber construction with cassettes type services.

In conclusion, Fabermaunsell advised that to get the best from modern methods, contractor and specialist subcontractor must been involved as early stage as possible. It is also best to incorporate design from outside in instead of vice versa. Andy also mentioned the possibility of encouraging supply chain to take wider responsibilities hence creating a better communication chain for everybody involved in the particular project.

To create a sustainable building, one must bear in mind that a lot of aspect need to be taken into consideration that MMC as a sustainable option need to be tailored to suit the project and client's situation and prerequisite to create the best sustainable solution for a particular project.

THE DEBATE: MMC might be proven to reduce the amount of waste on site, BUT, isn't it an additional energy consumption to transport the prefabricated part to the site (also to bear in mind that modules means that more transport needed since a lorry will only be able to transport about 2 modules in one go).

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