Efficient construction system stacks self-contained modules like Legos

Freeman

Erecting an entire building from scratch at the construction site can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why many companies […]

Erecting an entire building from scratch at the construction site can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why many companies look to factory-built prefabricated structures. A new technology takes that idea further, with prefab blocks that are stacked like Lego blocks.

The modular system was developed at the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology, by a team led by Dr. Seok-Ho Lim and Dr. Joon-Soo Chung. It incorporates shipping-container-shaped “blocks” that serve as single rooms of a larger overall building.

Each of these blocks consists of two parts. There’s an infill module – which includes the inner walls, inner floor and ceiling – along with an open-topped “PC module,” which consists of two load-bearing exterior side walls and a load-bearing exterior floor.

Modules of both types are transported to the construction site, where a crane is used to lower the infill modules into their corresponding PC modules, thus forming the self-contained blocks. That same crane then hoists each of those blocks into place on a concrete pad, stacking them one on top of another as dictated by the building plan.

In a final step, a roof, stairs and block-connecting corridors are added to complete the structure. All told, the blocks account for 70 to 80% of the whole building.

Not only is the onsite assembly process reportedly much less time-consuming and labor-intensive than traditional building methods, it’s also claimed to generate less noise, dust and waste. Additionally, when the building is no longer needed, the individual blocks can be retrieved and used in other projects.

The Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport recently announced its plans to use the system for the construction of rental houses within the Seoul metropolitan area and in new outlying towns.

“The developed modular construction method will offer effective solutions for addressing environmental issues in the construction industry and housing shortages,” said Dr. Lim. “This technology significantly reduces construction costs and diminishes the need for a large portion of onsite operations, resulting in shorter construction periods compared to conventional concrete construction methods.”

Source: Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology

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