Rise to build mass housing for Sri Lanka shanty dwellers in offsite revolution

26 June 2015

Picture: Aidan Jones (Creative Commons

Rise Management Consulting and its partners are negotiating to build low-cost housing on a vast scale to rehome shanty dwellers in Sri Lanka, in an innovative project that harnesses a global supply chain.

The basic but serviced homes will be built using offsite manufacturing methods, with a modular system using light guage steel (LGS) from China and concrete panels fabricated to a South African design.   

The pre-engineered system, known as Ararum, utilises a combination of pre-cast concrete load-bearing “L” shaped panels forming the shell, LGS prefabricated panels for the inner walls and envelope insulation, and pre-stressed concrete floor panels. 

The system can be adapted for large-scale schemes, individual town houses and villas, through to multi-level apartment complexes up to 30 storeys, for the social and affordable markets.

Rise founding director Bob White explained that sourcing the steel components in China, for delivery in shipping containers, was also key to the project’s financial viability, while the concrete panels will be cast from moulds in a facility near the site then pre-assembled into wall and floor units. 

He said: “You’ve got to have the right supply chain in the right place at the right price, and be smart about identifying needs.”

"You've got to have the right supply chain in the right place at the right price, and being smart about identifying needs."

Bob White, director, Rise Management Consulting

The firm and its partners are negotiating on several sites in Sri Lanka, large enough for 2,000 to 15,000 units, and are also in talks with developers in Abu Dhabi, where the target market is young professionals and first-time buyers.

Rise director Bob White said that the Ararum project had grown out of a long-standing interest in offsite methods. “I’ve always had a passion for modern methods of construction and offsite, so I thought I'd take a look at where there is a particular market for a particular commodity – high quality and relatively economic housing.”

Rise started its search in China, where it worked with a supply chain partner to create a brand called Constructing Futures, dedicated to pre-fabricating light gauge steel structures

But after concluding that the Chinese housing market was resolutely geared to low-rise concrete construction , it widened the consortium to include South African prefabricated concrete panel manufacturer Elcon and sought clients in the Middle East and Sri Lanka.

White reports that it has now secured “a couple” of public sector clients in Sri Lanka interested in large scale residential developments of 2000 to 15 000 units, as low cost housing for people moving out of shanty towns.

“We developed relationships with one or two people in Sri Lanka and they understood the potential in terms of materials and delivery,” White explains, adding that they are also presenting to clients in Abu Dhabi.

White adds that Rise finds this DIY approach to overseas projects more appealing than staffing a representative office that then has to engage in competitive bidding.

“With the intermittent nature of the international market place, we find it quite difficult to service. So working as a supplier gives us different opportunities.”

KidZania London opens

In its home market, Rise this week announced the completion of KidZania London, an “edutainment” experience for children located at Westfield London.

Rise was appointed as project and construction manager by Longshot Kids  in 2013 under a model it calls Project Management Extra.

The London venue is the nineteenth KidZania to open globally. It forms a 75,000 sq ft, two-storey child-sized city, providing children with a real-life introduction to the world of work.

Children and their parents will find the streets lined with more than 60 real-world establishments, including a hospital, police station, fire station, airline and theatre, each offering real-life role play.

Bob White commented: “We have entered a new sector and a new adventure, and we hope to continue collaborating with the partners in the future. The project was executed by a small but highly capable team, which aligns well with our new philosophy of lean, efficient delivery teams.”

KidZania London is billed as an “edutainment” experience for children


We are not South African. The Elcon System was originally developed with the BRE.
We are a British system through and through. See our website

Regards, Ted Whitfield
Managing Director
Elcon Group

Ted Whitfield, 26 June 2015

Be interesting to see where this project gets to. I look forward to future updates in CM.

Dai Davies, 30 June 2015

Great to see Elcon leading from the front!

Matt Bridge, 20 October 2015

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