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Singapore’s futuristic Skyscrapers

16.07.20

The worlds’ tallest prefabricated skyscraper block is coming to Singapore.

Two 56-story residential towers will soon rise on the western edge of Singapore’s urban core . Additional skyscrapers in the city-state is hardly surprising, but Avenue South Residences has a unique selling point that differentiates the buildings from its predecessors, as the towers will be the world’s tallest buildings developed with Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) technology—where semi-finished apartment modules are built in factories offsite before being stacked, Lego-like, on top of one another.

The 988-unit condominium towers will eventually comprise 2,984 total modules. Everything from the bathrooms with Hansgrohe fittings to kitchens with marble backsplashes will be constructed in factories in Singapore and neighbouring Malaysia. They will then be transported to the 5.6-acre building site, which sits next to a High Line–styled, 15-mile-long former railway corridor now transformed into a park, and hoisted by cranes into place.

Modular design is well suited to the post-COVID era and its thought that PPVC-built homes could become a new normal, as the design allows for factory workers to build the modules at a safe and controlled distance before the units are shipped to the site.

Modular homes also require less physical bodies to be present on a building site. This is an asset at a time when the U.S. construction industry, has seen a significant reduction in its migrant labour force due to closed borders. Additionally, lower labour costs, quicker construction times, and economies of scale result in cost savings of as much as 15% in some cities, experts say.

Unsurprisingly, pre-finished modular buildings are increasingly common in cities that face housing crunches—Singapore’s government sold land to the developer of Avenue South Residences on the condition that PPVC technology was used. Carmel Place, a micro-apartment development in midtown Manhattan where rents exceed $2,500, was constructed with a similar method. Other cities are also using this method of building to construct social housing.

Major hotel chains like Marriott, which recently built the world’s tallest modular hotel in New York’s NoMad neighbourhood, have also embraced the technology.

But PPVC homes aren’t always cheaper: The median price of an apartment at Avenue South Residences is just under $1.1 million. The condominiums cost about 5% more to build than if traditional methods have been used, says Cheng, whose firm recently worked on another 40-story PPVC tower in Singapore. That said, he quips that prices are rapidly becoming more competitive as the technology evolves further and more developers and builders achieve expertise in PPVC construction.

When residents move in, the hope is that they’ll pay less attention to how the towers were built and more to their amenities. Both towers will feature a verdant sky garden with views of the surrounding city and smaller gardens with be peppered throughout the building, so no homeowner will be more than five stories away from green space.

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