We all had such grand plans for ourselves at the beginning of lockdown last year. We were going to write novels, or revolutionize physics, or at the very least sew an authentic medieval kirtle from scratch. But when the world started opening up, what had we done? Most of us hadn’t tackled more than a loaf of banana bread and an industry-influencing amount of nostalgia porn.
Well don’t worry: it turns out you don’t need a lot of time to do something huge. In Zhuhai City, China, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) recently built a seven-storey, 112-bed hotel – and it only took them twelve days to complete.
How did they manage such a mammoth undertaking? Well, they kind of took shortcuts: the hotel was built using a technique called modular construction. This is when parts of a building, or “modules”, are prefabricated in a factory and fitted together on-site – it’s basically the IKEA flat-pack of building construction. About 80 percent of the building process that would usually be done on-site was moved to CSCEC’s automated intelligent factory, and all the human construction workers had to do was then slot them together – “like building a car,” explains a statement from the company.
Not only did that make the construction process faster, it also improved the accuracy and quality of the building, says CSCEC. That’s largely because the automated production removes human error, allowing precise designs to be replicated exactly in a controlled environment. And for this hotel, the process was optimized even further: the technology used in the factory made it possible to digitally manage the construction of the modules throughout the production process, meaning that any faults could be located and fixed in real-time rather than after the building was completed.
Another advantage of this method is the reduced waste and energy consumption – it’s a much greener way of building. A recent UK government report found that modular construction uses 20 to 30 percent less energy than traditional building methods, but CSCEC estimate that they more than halved the energy consumption the construction might otherwise have used. They also say that materials wastage was reduced by one-quarter, and construction waste by a whopping 70 percent over traditional construction methods. Just to top off the hotel’s green credentials, it’s even recyclable – since it can basically just be disassembled rather than demolished, CSCEC say that over 90 percent of the components can be reused.
With the initial foundational concrete taking 72 hours to pour, and the final building being completed in 12 days, the hotel is a success story for CSCEC’s maximal information coefficient (MIC) technology. With its advantages in speed, design, and enviable green credentials, there’s really only one question left: how much for a weekend in the suite?