12 modular projects speeding up construction across Canada
Check out what the country’s modular builders have been stacking up.
University students walk past the tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ project in Vancouver. – Hotson Architecture
Modular construction methods are being applied to a wide range of projects including homes, schools, hotels, correctional facilities and even nuclear reactors.
Why are clients turning to modular companies to deliver these projects? Several themes emerge. First, many of these projects need to get built fast. Second, they are often in remote or intense environments that are difficult to access and present weather challenges.
With modular construction, much of the work can be done off-site under controlled conditions. These projects tend to use the same materials and are designed to the same codes and standards as conventionally built facilities – but in about half the time.
Many of these projects are also able to achieve extremely high levels of performance.
Aecon Group Inc. is partnering with E.S. Fox Limited to build North America’s first grid-scale small modular reactor (SMR) Ontario’s Darlington New Nuclear Project (DNNP). Through the IPD partnership, Aecon has formed a teaming agreement with E.S. Fox to jointly fabricate steel components offsite at Aecon’s fabrication facility in Cambridge and E.S. Fox’s Port Robinson facility. These components will be welded into sub-assemblies and shipped to the DNNP project site where they will be built into larger modules on-site and used to construct the primary steel structure of the reactor building. Leveraging a modular approach to help build the BWRX-300 SMR, a new class of nuclear reactor, is expected to achieve reduced construction costs.
East King Edward Avenue
Bird Construction has been chosen to help build a 14-storey modular project in Vancouver – the tallest of its kind in Canada. The company announced it has been awarded a construction management services contract for BC Housing‘s Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative, located on East King Edward Avenue in Vancouver. The 14-storey modular project is valued at approximately $50 million. The project is part of a joint agreement between the city of Vancouver, BC Housing, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to deliver a minimum of 300 permanent supportive homes on five city-owned sites.
tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ
Ryder Architecture and Hotson Architecture, in collaboration, recently completed tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ (The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater), a series of five student residences totally nearly 1,000 beds at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The Musqueam Indian Band bestowed the names to UBC in their hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language as a gift. The project was built to LEED Gold standards with high performance envelopes. They also connect to the school’s district energy system.
Speedstac is a modular construction system developed by Sparkbird, an innovation lab hatched from Toronto architecture firm WZMH. The system allows for rapid and efficient construction of buildings using prefabricated modules. The modules are designed as light, self-contained rooms with built-in electrical and plumbing services, making them easy to transplant into existing building infrastructure. Speedstac can be rapidly deployed to first analyze a damaged or partially destroyed building, then fabricate a module to replace rooms without the need to demolish the entire building.bArchitects in Ukraine are beginning to design new buildings using the Speedstac system in several projects ranging from single-family homes to schools.
Modular methods are being used by Selklirk College to house students at its Nelson and Castlegar campuses in B.C. The first project, a $33.9-million facility is being constructed by Scott Builders and ROC Modular in Nelson, saw units being lifted into place last month. Built indoors at a massive temperature-controlled facility in the community of Bow Island, the modular units come complete with drywall, insulation, windows, cabinets, interior paint, electrical/plumbing and flooring. The Castlegar project is expected to be assembled this month.
Calgary Khalsa School
When this Khalsa Sikh faith-based school required an expansion of their existing facility to accommodate increasing student enrollment numbers, it turned to NRB Modular Solutions. Prefabricated modular construction facilitated an expedited schedule during the summer holidays. Located just outside of Calgary, the cold climate means that the building includes several thermal performance upgrades, from energy-certified windows and doors to extra insulation in all walls to boost R-values. Other features included high-efficiency HVAC systems for heating and warmth retention. The design team also incorporated traditional Sikh colors: blue, which is the color of the warrior and orange, which represents knowledge and wisdom.
Nanaimo Courtyard by Marriott
Nexii partnered with PEG Companies to deliver the exterior building envelope for the long-awaited Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The nine-storey hotel includes 750 exterior panels. Pieces were manufactured off-site at Squamish-based Nexii production facility with integrated finishes, services and windows. Nexii’s proprietary system allows high-tech panels to fit together like jigsaw pieces onsite to create an airtight building envelope. The hotel’s opening was recently celebrated with songs and blessings from Snuneymuxw First Nation.
My Home Place
My Home Place is a supportive housing project in Dawson Creek, B.C. The 3-storey, permanent modular building features 32 self-contained studio homes, including 2 accessible units. It houses people experiencing homelessness and provides support programs to community members in need. The NRB Modular Solutions project went beyond the stringent criteria of the BC Energy Step Code and achieved Passive House-level airtightness. The design team’s goal for the project was to increase the overall performance of the building through sustainable construction materials and improved energy efficiency.
Thunderbay Correctional Facility
Officials in Thunderbay, Ont. turned to Stack Modular when they were planning to replace a correctional complex to improve the facility’s health, safety and security. Stack allowed the build to be 80% offsite modular, greatly minimizing schedule, labor and seasonal challenges common in northern Ontario. In a rare move for a correctional facility project, the Stack/Bird team engaged with local indigenous communities to incorporate their ideas into the design. The project features wayfinding in multiple languages including Cree Ojibway, Michif, French and English. It has circular smudging rooms, indigenous Art opportunities, landscapes that included fire pits, sweat lodges, and teepees. The indigenous communities also had a major influence in selecting the prominent plants throughout the exercise yards design.
Secwépemc Child and Family Services Agency building
Another project by NRB Modular, the Secwépemc Child and Family Services (SCFS) Agency building was carefully designed to not interfere with the archaeological sensitive zones of the property according to the heritage conservation bylaw. Work on the Kamloops, B.C. project was immensely streamlined as as the modules were constructed at a factory two blocks from the site. NRB was able to produce one module a day on average in their heated plant. The project also includes a state-of-the-art Kaba Access Control System for getting in and out of the building.
Cedar Valley Lodge
With an estimated price tag of $40 billion, LNG Canada is literally the largest project underway in Canada. And modular construction is helping house the thousands of workers needed to get it done. The more than 86,000-square-foot facility was built through the COVID-19 pandemic and working offsite helped prevent the spread of illness. Stack Modular stated that the inherent capabilities of its steel frame design and Asian-based manufacturing lent themselves perfectly to the region’s climactic concerns and the turnkey furniture, fixtures and equipment opportunities.
Norway House Cree Nation
Norway House Cree Nation, a community roughly 800 km north of Winnipeg, need housing and they needed it fast. To address the crisis, they partnered with Bison Modular homes to develop a modular system that would provide safe, mold-free homes. The steel panel units can be shipped anywhere the nation need them. The project has been so successful that officials want to move some of the Bison Modular Homes manufacturing closer to the Nation so that residents can be more involved in the process.