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Portable Buildings From Across the Globe

Posted by admin on April 12, 2019

Portable buildings (AKA: modular constructions, preb buildings or pop-up buildings) are becoming more and more popular throughout the world to the point where they are almost mainstream.

This has given rise to glowing examples of such buildings all over the globe. They represent what kind of feats are achievable through such buildings and how useful they can be!

There are quite a few great examples, but today we’re going to cover the best ones.

Habitat 67, Montreal


Mosfe Safdie’s cuboid block of 158 flats has become iconic in modular construction. The complex is a concrete stack of structures arranged through a series of high-tension rods, giving it a uniform but quirky look. 

Fifteen different housing types exist in this building, from flats with gardens to ones with terraces filling in the space. How does one access the place? Through a lift, of course!

Even more remarkably, the prefabrication of the concrete modules were all built off-site in a purpose-built factory. Safdie himself believed this to be the most cost-effective solution to the process. Still, if you have a spare $140,000 then one of these homes could be yours!

Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo

You may well recognise this iconic 13-storey structure. The Nakagin Capsule Tower is the world’s first example of permanent plug-in architecture. While many may debate the aesthetic choices, it certainly demonstrates how pop-up buildings can make use of as little space as possible.

Measuring only 2.3m x 3.8m x 2.1 m, each of the 140 self-contained prefabricated concrete capsules are connected to the main shaft through four high-tension bolts. While it’s a feat of engineering, many who have lived in these capsules have complained about the cramped conditions.

Fortunately, the Japanese government offer to “unplug” the current capsules and replace them with updated versions, something which they have sadly yet to deliver on.

Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool

We’ve talked about modular apartment blocks, but what about an entire hospital?

Perhaps the largest and most ambitious example of a modular construction on this list has to be the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital just outside Liverpool. Not only is it a fantastic construction in of itself, it perfectly represents what Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) building can accomplish.

Most buildings of this kind would feature steel or in-situ frames with non-structural cladding on its exterior. Alder Hey, on the other hand, makes great use of pre-glazed precast elements of its cladding, including the load-bearing external walls.

Star Apartments, Los Angeles

65595129_s.jpgFinally, the Star Apartments block in Los Angeles made Time Magazine’s “25 Inventions of the Year” in 2015 due to its innovation and becoming a homeless shelter as part of the Downtown LA project.

Rather than tearing down its single-story building, the brains behind this modular construction wanted to adapt rather than destroy and so they invested in putting concrete modules on top of the existing site.

There is clear inspiration from Habitat 67 here, but this kind of innovation is, in its own way, completely innovative.

Want to see more examples of portable buildings? Have a look at our own modular constructions at Quickway Buildings!

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