Europe’s tallest modular tower completes

14 September 2017 | By James Kenny

Europe’s tallest modular tower, the 580-bed Apex House in Wembley, has opened its doors to students.

The 29-storey tower was built in a factory in Bedford over 12 months by Tide Construction alongside Vision Modular Systems.

The tower comprises 679 modules and took 13 weeks to install. If it had been built by traditional bricks and mortar it would have taken more than 24 months to complete.

The tower was designed by HTA Design and will be operated by Scape.

Christy Hayes, chief executive of Tide Construction, said: “Apex House stands tall as an example of what modular construction can bring to the UK’s housing market. It is a fast, safe and sustainable way of building high-quality homes throughout the UK that are backed by registered insurers.”

The tower comprises 679 modules

The use of “prefab” has long been dogged by issues related to cost, aesthetics and quality of construction, but evidence suggests it is starting to gain ground again.

The government’s £3bn Home Building Fund, launched last year, will direct some funding to modular housing. And the £1.7bn Accelerated Construction Programme, launched in January, will exploit offsite to deliver up to 15,000 housing starts on surplus public sector land during the current parliament.

Under the latter, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) will provide support for local authorities that use offsite building methods and construct homes at “up to double the speed of a traditional development”.

The completion of Apex House also comes at a time when the student housing market is booming, with research suggesting that it will account for £1 in every £10 invested in commercial property this year, with £5.4bn worth of deals expected to be done – up from £3.2bn last year. Much of this investment is expected in the capital.

Rory Bergin, partner at HTA Design LLP, said: “Projects like Apex House show the true potential of modular construction in the UK, where great design meets innovative technology.

“The speed at which buildings can be erected, and the quality of the homes built, makes modular construction a vital component of increased housing supply.”

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