The evolution of the use of prefabrication techniques in Hong Kong construction industry

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The evolution of the use of prefabrication techniques in Hong Kong construction industry

 

Author: Jaillon, Lara Celine
Title: The evolution of the use of prefabrication techniques in Hong Kong construction industry
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2009
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Construction industry -- China -- Hong Kong.
Precast concrete construction -- China -- Hong Kong.
Buildings, Prefabricated -- China -- Hong Kong.
Department: Dept. of Civil and Structural Engineering
Pages: xix, 316 leaves : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2321036
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/4847
Abstract: The construction industry in Hong Kong heavily relies on conventional cast in-situ construction involving extensive use of timber formworks and wet trades. In 2001, the Construction Industry Review Committee report described the construction activities in Hong Kong as 'labour intensive, dangerous and polluting'. Globally, however, the recent trend is prefabrication, which is being increasingly used in the building industry, alleviating some of the environmental burdens associated with conventional construction. Very few studies have assessed the sustainable construction aspects of prefabrication in dense urban environments in terms of economic, environmental and social benefits and limitations of using prefabrication. Prefabricated building components have been adopted in Hong Kong for over two decades for high-rise buildings from the public sector. There is a need to study the use of prefabrication in high-rise buildings, especially for projects in the private sector given the global trend towards sustainable construction. Additionally, the limited availability of comprehensive databases on Hong Kong high-rise buildings has so far failed to supply any data on the application of prefabrication and its evolution, though it is clear that there is a need for such a comprehensive database. This research project aims to investigate the evolution and application of precast construction in high-rise buildings and assess the sustainable construction aspects of prefabrication in dense high-rise urban environments like Hong Kong. In this research, five major ways of collecting and analysing data are pursued, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies: (i) questionnaire surveys, (ii) compilation of a database, (iii) detailed case studies of recently completed buildings in Hong Kong, (iv) face-to-face interviews, and (v) site observations. The study reveals that over the years, a wide use of prefabrication has been noted in residential buildings, in terms of precasting percentage by volume and types of precasting elements adopted. Overall, the most frequently used precast components are precast facade (51%), precast staircase (22%), semi-precast slab (9%) and semi-precast balcony (7%). Additionally, this study shows that a wider application of prefabrication in buildings in Hong Kong could significantly contribute to economical, environmental and social benefits, especially in dense urban environments. In the detailed case studies, on an average, a reduction of 65% of construction waste, 16% of labour requirement on-site and 15% of construction time is noted when adopting prefabrication techniques. The accident rate is, on an average, 63% lower than the industry figure. The findings also reveal that prefabrication combined with modular design and standard precast elements saves time and construction/design costs, as the prefabricated building system is not re-invented for each project. However, in some projects, these principles could not be fully implemented across projects due to compact sites in high-density environments. Finally, the study shows that design for deconstruction and adaptability is not yet a priority when adopting prefabrication in Hong Kong. The study suggests that a critical agenda should include the development of serious aspiration towards a more environmentally responsible and sustainable building industry (e.g. closed-loop material principles) to achieve a healthy built environment and efficient use of resources.

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