Elements Europe, a modular construction specialist, has begun work in Telford on the 249 homes it is putting together for Essential Living’s Creekside Wharf scheme in Greenwich.
It is one the first build to rent schemes being built this way and will be one of the tallest modular buildings in the UK.
From February 2017 Elements will send 632 modules to Creekside Wharf at a rate of 20 a week. At its 200,000 sq ft Telford-based factory, Elements can complete each module within seven days.
The steel-framed modules will fit around the scheme’s concrete core. This gives the project lateral stability while the stacked modules carry its weight back to the ground – exactly the same as a conventional office block, the developer says.
The factory approach will halve the time spent on site to 32 weeks. Enhanced energy efficiency and the ability to refurbish buildings more easily also make off-site construction attractive, said Essential Living.
Ray Theakston, construction director at Essential Living, said: “We’re pleased to be able to appoint Elements, veterans of the modular world, on what promises to be an innovative scheme in Greenwich. Having the potential to collect rent six months earlier than a traditional build is appealing. This is achievable because you can commence work on the modules off site at the same time as constructing the traditional concrete core on site - which the steel-framed modules then plug into.
“We’re creating a portfolio of 5,000 rental homes across London and the southeast. Modular may well play a role in some of our future schemes, but it’s important to stress that we remain committed to working with traditional contractors who will continue to play a key role in delivering our projects.”
Elements Europe managing director Simon Underwood said: “Modular solutions have been used for many years throughout the hotel and student accommodation sectors and our entry into the build-to-rent market is just a natural progression, bringing homes forward sooner, reducing capital construction costs, and improving the quality and safety of delivery.”
Russell Pedley, director of project designer Assael Architecture, said: “It’s great to see Essential Living push forward with modular construction for what promises to be a forward-thinking project in Greenwich. Offsite methods are ideally suited to build to rent, offering faster delivery, higher energy efficiency and complementing a longer term outlook not constrained by the absorption rates of build for sale.”