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FIRST LOOK

HTA’s student accommodation is tallest modular building in Europe

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The 29-storey tower in Wembley, designed by HTA Design, was built using 679 offsite-fabricated modules

Developed by Tide Construction for student housing provider Scape, the 90m-tall, 580-bed tower was built in Bedford. The tower is the largest modular building in Europe. As well as bedrooms, it provides communal facilities such as a cinema and an outdoor courtyard.

Apex House is one of many modular developments underway across the UK as modular construction continues to be seen as a credible solution to Britain’s housing crisis thanks to shorter build times and less waste, as well as its ability to cope with a dwindling construction workforce.

Apex House comes at a time when the student housing market is booming, as developers snap up sites that can be quickly and easily built on without the responsibilities that would usually be associated with residential projects. JLL property management has suggested that it will account for £1 in every £10 invested in commercial property this year, with £5.4 billion worth of deals expected to be done – up from £3.2 billion last year. Much of this investment is expected in the capital. 

Developer’s view

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 completion of Apex House is a real milestone for Tide Construction and the entire modular sector. As the tallest modular building in Europe, the development is testimony to the quality we can deliver for the UK property market, whether it’s student accommodation, hotels, for-sale homes or build to rent. The support of both the government and the industry of this emerging build technology means that modular construction will undoubtedly play a part in solving Britain’s housing crisis.

Christy Hayes, chief executive, Tide Construction  

Architect’s view

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.

Rory Bergin, partner, HTA Design

Project data

Start on site June 2016
Completion August 2017
Gross internal floor area 16,602m²
Form of contract Design and Build
Architect 
HTA Design
Client Tide Construction 
Structural engineer Barrett Mahony Consulting Engineers
M&E consultant Vecron Design
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Tide Construction
Module design Vision Modular Systems
Daylight/sunlight consultant Malcolm Hollis
Project manager Tide Construction 
CDM coordinator
 Tide Construction 
Approved building inspector Brent BCCS Building Control
Main contractor Tide Construction 
CAD software used Revit

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