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Building quickly and safely on a dense plot : modular prefab for hospitals

Through several flagship projects, archipelago has developed expertise in the design and development of modular prefabrication projects, particularly in the health sector. Let’s take a look at these extraordinary experiences.

Minimising delays and nuisances

3D modular prefabrication is a construction method that allows the near-complete offsite production of a permanent building, safely and efficiently. The structure, consisting of three-dimensional modules completed and equipped in the factory, is transported and assembled in record time on the site.

In Mons, Belgium, a unique hospital project was launched in 2017: an extension of nearly 10,000 m², including complex clinical support services (operating theatre and sterilisation) and housing 90 beds, came out of the ground in just 2 years. After about ten months spent preparing the site (demolitions, earthworks, foundations and outgrowers) and the production of off-site modules, just a few weeks were enough to assemble the five levels of the building. About a year later, the first teams of the University Hospital of Ambroise Paré took possession of their new infrastructure. During the period of building works, the movement and the activities of the hospital could continue almost without disturbance, thanks to the relocation of a large part of the construction off site.

Originally, the main objective of any type of prefabrication is to minimise the operations to be carried out on the implantation site. For a sensitive infrastructure needing to be maintained in continuous operation, such as a hospital, this advantage is all the more exacerbated. Modular prefabrication takes full advantage of this advantage by minimising delays and nuisances on the worksite, while offering a customised, sustainable and high quality infrastructure. In the end, the result is a permanent construction with an operating horizon and a feeling comparable to a traditional building.

Prefab wing of the Ambroise Paré hospital in Mons

Densifying sustainably

The hospital is a living organism. Hospital managers are fully aware of this: space needs and technological developments require  continually (re)developing the infrastructure. However, land reserves are not unlimited and densifying a hospital site presents constraints – often dissuasive. Modular prefabrication offers a very immediate technical solution, which takes into account the functional constraints specific to the sector and without compromising on safety. In the long term, this type of construction is also part of a circular economy approach that takes into account the total cost of the life cycle of the building (Life Cycle Cost): the concept integrates the possibility of dismantling the building while minimising the impact on the environment and the costs, in anticipation of later development phases on the site. The modular building can either be dismantled and possibly moved, or almost completely recycled through the disassembly of dry modules and recovery or selective sorting of materials.

How can we design an urban hospital according to circular economy principles?

Case study - BRACOPS

How can we design an urban hospital according to circular economy principles?

Prefab construction works on a hospital site

Proposing the most appropriate construction solution

The key to success? The concept of modular prefabrication must be incorporated from the earliest stages of the project. This is essential to optimise the design of the building and avoid poorly controlled adaptations or unnecessary costs at the time of production. Whether it is a one-off extension or a complete building, the main challenge is to propose a quality and relevant architectural solution in a given context. Mastering the technical constraints of this type of construction is a minimum requirement for designers, but it is not enough. At archipelago, we are convinced of the advantages of rational prefabrication. Any construction system has advantages and disadvantages: without prejudice, we analyse the needs and the context of each project to propose the most appropriate construction solution. Based on our extensive experience in the field of health and in modular projects, we want to offer innovative solutions while maintaining the primary objective of respecting the functional and aesthetic wishes of the owner. What is the impact for your project? Do not hesitate to challenge us, we are always ready for constructive exchanges!

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