As the deadly coronavirus cases multiplied in China and the rest of the world scrambled to save itself, China achieved a remarkable feat. It managed to build two huge hospitals, totalling 2600 beds, in just 10 days, to treat coronavirus affected patients. The article is in the context of “How China Built Two Hospitals in 10 days”.
According to CNN, Coronavirus has infected over 69,000 people globally, mostly in China. The death toll stands at 1,669, including four people outside mainland China.
To address this soaring emergency, China constructed the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan hospital in Wuhan, to isolate and treat Coronavirus patients. This hospital was built in record time, and within days, China constructed another – the 1600-bed Leishenshan hospital.
The construction of these two hospitals in 10 days has grabbed world’s attention. Reports also recall a similar hospital constructed in Beijing in 2003, during the SARS outbreak. That hospital took only a week to complete and treated around 700 patients.
So how did China manage to have these hospitals up and running in no time? Let’s find out.
The Secret of the Structures
Generally, hospitals take roughly about two years to build in China which includes time taken to meet all statutory compliances. However, in an emergency response situation, things are altogether different.
For instance, in the current coronavirus case a staggering 7,000 member crew of carpenters, electricians, plumbers and construction specialists were deployed by CSCEC to build these hospitals. The material used was largely prefabricated structures. These structures are primarily designed using structural steel boxes, which allow them to be stacked on top of each other. According to Grant Geiger, CEO OF EIR Healthcare, these structures resemble a custom-engineered shipping container.
China has always propagated the use of prefabricated structures – it takes the lead with 7,000 prefab manufacturers in operation. In 2016, the Chinese prefab construction company Broad Sustainable Building made headlines for the world’s fastest-built skyscraper, a 57-floor structure in only 19 days.
Is prefabrication the future of construction?
It is interesting to note that though prefabrication has been around for centuries; it’s getting the attention it deserves now! For instance, the world’s oldest engineered roadway, Sweet Track, was constructed in England around 3,800 BC using prefabricated timber sections. Another early example is of The Crystal Palace, London, that was made using large sheet glass prefabrication methods.
Prefabrication is a technique wherein buildings are constructed using components that have already been cast off-site in a factory. These are then transported to the construction site for quick slotting on-site.
These prefabricated components can be tailor-made for almost every part of a building – from windows, staircases to ceilings and rooftops. In case the entire building is being prefabricated, the foundation is laid on-site. The other parts are simply transported and then fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle.
According to the Prefabricated Buildings Market Report, the industry is to reach US$ 135,945.6 million globally by 2023. There are several reasons why prefabrication is the future:
- It significantly reduces time of construction which is environmentally-sustainable also
- It also provides other benefits like site safety, enhanced air quality and management
A report by the World Economic Forum mentions that constructed objects account for 25-40% of the world’s carbon emissions. Additionally, they also contribute 30% to global greenhouse emissions. Prefabrication will play a crucial role for organisations who want to adopt environmentally-sustainable methods to construct buildings. Besides, it will also improve cost efficiency and reduce the time of construction.
How India’s real estate industry can benefit from prefabrication
In 2018, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri highlighted a pressing problem. He said that India will have to build a new Chicago every year, to meet the massive urban demand. Projections suggest that 40% of India’s population will reside in urban areas by 2030. Lack of space, overcrowding, delay in completion of buildings as well as clearance issues have crippled the industry in India. Besides, this sector is heavily dependent on labour and relies on traditional construction practices.
WEF’s report says that “Productivity in construction could receive a substantial boost from standardisation, modularisation, and prefabrication’. Whether it’s Burj Khalifa, Dubai or Sydney Opera House, prefabrication has worked its magic.
The adoption of innovative construction practices in India will help increase efficiency and also make the process much faster. It can also lower weather-related issues and reduce construction costs.
The future is ‘prefabricated’. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are already adopting prefabrication methods. Yale has also gone for prefabricated construction in recent years..
Prefabrication helps reduce manpower needs, material usage, water consumption, labour cost, and is environment-friendly. Waste generated during construction can be handled in a more efficient manner. Since it’s in a controlled environment. Prefabrication also comes with a whole lot of flexibility – the structures can be easily disassembled and relocated to project sites. Plus the quality is uniform and adheres to specified standards. Last but not the least, it also helps to prevent safety hazards.
With time, prefabrication is set to redefine real estate in India!
(Edited by Anu Choudary)