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Pushing the Boundaries of Perception

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MBI member Fleetwood Building Solutions has pushed boundaries and challenged perceptions regarding modular construction. The Australian modular construction company recently constructed and delivered an architectural centerpiece for Fairfield Primary School in Melbourne, Australia. The dedicated Years 5 & 6 learning communities are housed in a contemporary 2-storey building that pushes the boundaries of perception around design for modular construction.

The building replaces an existing permanent facility that had reached the end of its life. The project delivered resilience through its design and maximized the value of the new building through a collaborative process. Structural and spatial solutions that enabled cost-effective refurbishment of the first-floor space allows this modular building to meet the changing future needs of a growing and vibrant school.

The building was constructed offsite in 16 modules (733 square meters), which were then separately transported to the site and installed. The project delivered extensive integrated outdoor spaces and decking areas to link learning areas with new social settings. This supports further learning opportunities!

The project not only maximized the established benefits of offsite construction: time, quality, and cost, it also explored further opportunities to leverage other industry best practices. This resulted in a “hybrid” approach to the precast lift core. The deliberate evaluation of construction and factory build tolerances ensured a seamless delivery and installation process.

The first floor of the building has been innovatively designed for both the current educational needs and a potential future use as a library and education resource center. The cost-effective refurbishment of the first floor extends the building’s useful life. This enhanced the project’s sustainability credentials beyond current best practice energy and operating cost control measures (e.g. the use of prefinished panel cladding which reduces ongoing school maintenance, eliminating the safety risks associated with working at heights during the project life.)

The project was procured through offsite construction because of the inability of traditional construction practices to deliver a cost-effective solution. Working with a significant government agency, Fleetwood Building Solutions validated prefabrication and modular construction with a pilot demonstration showcasing the high-quality design and built form outcomes that could be achieved. The adoption of a mass-customization strategy yielded a cost-effective manufacturing platform approach, tailored to the project brief.

The final project outcome is an architecture without compromise that delivers a high caliber spatial experience which is fit for purpose. Modular construction allows for the harnessing of supply chain efficiencies, the maximizing of local materials, and certainty and control over supply and material sources.

This project was completed in just 166 days and won First Place in MBI’s 2020 Awards of Distinction contest in the Education Under 10,000 Sq. Ft. category.

This article was adapted from an Awards of Distinction entry. Browse more projects.

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