Modern methods of construction
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Modern methods of construction

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MMC are characterised by the use of innovative construction materials and practices, and typically minimising labour-intensive works carried out on site. The use of MMC aims to increase efficiency, reduce waste, enhance sustainability, ensure consistent quality or otherwise improve the construction process.

MMC is often commonly regarded as off-site prefabrication of components/ modules which are then assembled on site. However, MMC can refer to a number of construction practices which can be combined with each other or with more traditional forms of construction. In addition to offsite prefabrication, other MMC terms include:

  • 3D printing: Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is being explored for creating construction components, including structural elements, walls, and even entire buildings
  • 3D volumetric construction: 3D volumetric construction involves assembling prefabricated volumetric units or modules. These modules are typically manufactured in a controlled environment, such as a factory, and then transported to the construction site for assembly
  • DfMA (design for manufacture and assembly): DfMA is a set of principles and strategies aimed at optimizing the design of a product to make it easier and more cost-effective to manufacture and assemble
  • Panelised units: Panelised units, also known as panelised construction or panelised building systems, involves building components, such as walls, floors, and roofs, being prefabricated as panels in a controlled environment (usually a factory) and then transported to the construction site for assembly
  • Traditional building large format, pre-cut products: This refers to a construction approach where construction materials are custom-cut to specific dimensions and sizes off-site and then transported to the construction site for assembly
  • Platform systems: These systems encompass the methods and technologies used to design, manufacture, and assemble prefabricated building modules
  • Smart monitoring technology: The integration of smart technologies, including internet of things (IoT) devices and sensors, allows for real-time monitoring and data collection to optimize building performance and maintenance
  • Lightweight/ lean construction: The use of lean/ lightweight materials, such as composites or engineered wood products, can reduce the overall weight of structures while maintaining strength and durability

MMC are being increasingly utilised in construction across all forms of structure, from high-rise and traditional housing to factories, warehouses and other structures. There is a perception that MMC results in generic, characterless structures, but when used appropriately MMC can deliver projects that are as interesting and responsive as any traditional build.


Featured resources and events

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In this article, Stuart Matthews (FIStructE) gives his views on the history and development of MMC, types of construction, their advantages and disadvantages and what the future may hold.

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Date – 3 April 2023
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Smail Kechidi describes his research into cold-formed steel-framed shear walls sheathed in timber, which won the Institution’s Research into Practice essay competition in 2021.

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Structural engineering considerations for high-rise modular buildings

This technical lecture explored best practices around the design and construction of high-rise modular structures of up to 50 storeys.

Date – 22 September 2023
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