Modular or offsite construction is an increasingly popular way to deliver building projects rapidly and cost-effectively. This project looked at how a UK architect leveraged modular to design and construct contemporary artist studios on a tight budget.
The Client Brief
The clients were artists who wanted to add two new studios to their existing Edwardian house property in Lincoln, UK. With a growing family, they needed more space to support their creative practices.
Key requirements were:
- Two separate but connected artist studios.
- Facilities for working, displaying art, and entertaining.
- A contemporary design contrasting the period main house.
- Delivery within a very tight budget.
Site and Planning Challenges
The architect faced obstacles in gaining planning permission and designing for the site:
- The site was in a conservation area resistant to contemporary architecture.
- Significant effort was required to finally gain consent.
- The awkward angled site bounded by neighbours was very tight.
A traditional masonry build would be difficult and time-consuming on the restricted site. And with the client’s budget, the tender returns for conventional construction were 10-15% over.
Delivering with Modular Construction
The panelised system construction involved manufacturing building components. These prefabricated modules were rapidly assembled onsite.
The architect was introduced to Matrix, a Structure manufacturing firm that can provide a solution.
- Rapid erection time – the two-storey structural frame was erected within a week.
- The prefab nature allowed tight access not possible traditionally.
- Insulation is included so no additional elements are required.
- Flexibility to accommodate non-standard angles.
- Delivered the project for less than the lowest tender.
- Access to financing so that budget-conscious clients could proceed.
- Clients delighted with the contemporary design and rapid process.
- The high-quality result on a difficult site is within budget.
- The architect won over and will use the panel system again.
- Modular construction can deliver quality rapidly and cost-effectively.
- Works well on complex or awkward sites.
- Collaboration early between architect and modular firm is key.
- Financing opens modular benefits to budget-driven clients.
Thoughtfully utilising modular construction enabled the architect to meet the clients’ aspirations within their budget, despite a challenging context. The strategic use of offsite techniques delivered the innovative contemporary design rapidly, cost-effectively, and to a high-quality standard.
This case demonstrates the value of panelised construction for creatively overcoming site and budget constraints to provide design excellence. When implemented strategically, modular building can unlock many possibilities.