Singapore’s densely populated Bukit Merah district will soon be home to new twin towers—after they’re constructed in another country. UOL Group Ltd. and Kheng Leong Co. are developing the pair of 192-meter (630-foot) skyscrapers using prefabricated prefinished volumetric construction (PPVC).
Designed by ADDP Architects, the 988 apartments in Avenue South Residences will be assembled like a Lego set, with teams using nearly 3,000 vertically stacked modules that snap together. The concrete-cast modules will be factory-made in Malaysia, then transported to a facility in Singapore to be fitted and furnished before being shipped to the construction site. ADDP estimates 80 percent of the work on each module will be completed off site—waterproofing, tiling, painting, glazing, cabinetry, plumbing—and then crafted into a load-bearing frame upon arrival.
Singapore is no stranger to PPVC—or its benefits. The country’s Building and Construction Authority actively encourages the approach, citing an 8 percent decline in cost and a 40 percent jump in productivity, compared to traditional construction methods. And because construction work carried out at the site is limited, there’s minimal disruption to nearby businesses and residences. PPVC provides one more advantage in the age of COVID-19: Social-distancing measures that limit the spread of the virus are easier to implement in factories than on a construction site, according to ADDP.
But the team will have to work around PPVC-related restrictions. Designs are limited to an 11-foot-wide (3.4-meter) module, with a significant amount of space lost to very thick walls separating modules. The result: quiet but cozy units. To maximize space, the ADDP team is getting creative with residence floorplans. External air conditioning condensers will be installed into residences rather than central air units, and kitchens will be kept separate to accommodate ventilation for smoke and steam.
The prefab construction didn’t mean the team skimped on aesthetics: Lush sky terraces and multi-story green spaces filled with trees and plant life break up the linear design, while interactive gardens throughout the development will include an observation deck and rock-climbing walls.
Upon its scheduled completion in 2026, the project will nab the title of world’s tallest modular construction from another pair of residential buildings in Singapore: the 140-meter (459-foot) Clement Canopy.