Prefab saves time for Changi hotel
IT WILL take just a month for the top eight storeys of the new Crowne Plaza Changi Airport hotel extension to rise, as its rooms are stacked and slotted together like building blocks.
Complete with carpeting, lighting and even bathtubs, the rooms were shipped over from a factory in Shanghai to be assembled on site.
Using this Prefabricated Pre-finished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) method, 112 out of 252 modules have already been installed.
The extension is expected to be fully completed by June, as more work will be required on the roof.
Such productive technology is crucial for the future of Singapore's construction industry, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, after he visited the site yesterday.
"We cannot possibly build our future infrastructure using the old ways of relying on more and more foreign workers," he told reporters.
The PPVC method has also helped overcome constraints of the building site, noted Irene Meta, senior vice-president of development and projects at OUE Limited, the developer of the project.
The site is small and access is limited due to its location in the airport. Delivery traffic to the worksite is allowed only from 10pm to 5am.
But PPVC requires much fewer vehicle trips: 300, compared with 1,250 for conventional building methods.
As less work is needed on-site, the small site area is less of an issue.
And assembly of the modules is also quieter, which means less disturbance for hotel guests.
"So we felt that, overall, this project was very suitable for the use of PPVC," said Ms Meta.
The 10-storey, $82 million extension will have a total of 243 rooms, adding significant capacity to the existing 320-room hotel.
The first stage of construction, from the foundation to the second storey, took about 10 months.
But installing the individual modules that comprise the remaining floors will take just one month.
The time taken on-site, from the second storey onwards till completion, is thus cut to four months, compared with 12 months otherwise.
And less manpower is needed: 36 workers, down from 60 .
Granted, manufacturing the hotel rooms in Shanghai took seven months, said Thierry Brezac, project director at construction firm Dragages Singapore. But factory production has benefits such as strict quality control and better working conditions, he added.
The PPVC method is expected to boost the project's overall productivity by about 45 per cent.
Building and Construction Authority chief executive officer John Keung hoped this would serve as a demonstration project to show the industry what PPVC can achieve.
"We hope we can build up the expertise here, whether it's architects or contractors or developers, to give this technology a big push," said Mr Keung.