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Chinese modular tech finds sweet spot in UK student accommodation

By Zhou Mo in Shenzhen, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-22 09:55
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A student accommodation developed by CIMC Modular Building Systems Holding Co Ltd. [Photo/]

Modular construction, an environmentally friendly and time-saving alternative to traditional construction, provided by Chinese companies, is seeing growing application with a British university choosing it for student accommodation.

CIMC Modular Building Systems Holding Co Ltd, a Chinese modular building provider, said that it had set up six blocks of student accommodation, comprising of containerized modules, at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. The Park View Student Village, as the student accommodation is called, is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK and was opened last month.

Modular construction is a type of prefabricated building model. Instead of doing all the construction work on-site, it allows more than 90 percent of a building project to be finished in the factory, thereby saving construction time by over 50 percent and reducing construction waste by over 50 percent.

According to the Shenzhen, Guangdong province-based company, the architecture consists of 789 modules, with a total area of 37,000 square meters. It includes 1,261 standard rooms, nine rooms for persons with disabilities and 162 kitchens.

With an investment of 75 million pounds ($97 million), it is the university's largest investment project.

"It would have taken at least three years to complete the project using traditional techniques. But using the modular services provided by the Chinese company we finished it in 110 weeks," said Paul Milburn, project manager of Galliford Try, general contractor of the project.

The British project follows another one in the United States several months ago, when the company delivered modularized student accommodation to the University of California, Berkeley.

According to a report by market research firm MarketsandMarkets, the total size of the modular construction market stood at $106.2 billion in 2017 and is slated to reach $157.2 billion by 2023.

The Asia-Pacific region dominated the market in 2017 in terms of value, with China contributing a major share of it, the report said.

"Access to high quality accommodation is an important part of student life and a significant factor in defining students," said Chris Day, vice-chancellor and president of Newcastle University.

Victor Zhu, general manager of CIMC MBS, said modular buildings have won high praise not only due to the economical efficiency and comfort, but also the sustainability.

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