The World’s Tallest Prefab Modular Skyscrapers are Being Built in Malaysia

Avenue South Residences | Image Credit: ADDP Architects via CNN
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But you’ll never see them here.

While skyscraper aficionados are geeking out over the towering PNB 118 that’s steadily rising above the Kuala Lumpur skyline – at 644m, it will be the world’s second-tallest building upon completion – fans of the still-stunning Petronas Towers rightly point out that though the towers’ reign as the world’s tallest has long since ended, they still hold the title of the world’s tallest twin towers. And though not nearly as much fanfare was generated with the completion of The Exchange 106 (perhaps owing to its connection to 1MDB, or perhaps the curious name, as the 445-m building has 95 floors, not 106), clearly, however, when it comes to scraping the sky, Malaysia has a lot in which it can take pride.

Now, a new project will add to the bragging rights, though in an admittedly odd way.

Twin 56-storey towers, each reaching 190m in height, are being built largely in Malaysia, but the buildings will not rise here. Rather, they will be transported in modular form across the border to Singapore, where they will upon completion become the tallest prefab buildings not only in the Lion City – surpassing the current 140m-high record-holder, Clement Canopy – but in the world.

Clement Canopy modular skyscrapers

The modular skyscrapers were designed by Singapore-based ADDP Architects for a project called Avenue South Residences, which will house some 988 apartments constructed from nearly 3,000 stacked modules.

The process is called Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction, or PPVC, and has won praise for its efficiency and cost savings, as well as its tendency to reduce waste and lower noise pollution. It seems a foregone conclusion that having the modules constructed in neighbouring Malaysia will not only draw on Malaysia’s expertise with concrete casting, but will significantly lower the overall cost of construction, even when factoring in expenses related to cross-border transportation.

Avenue South Residences: Each concrete module will be crane-lifted into place

According to a recent article by CNN, the individual modules for the skyscrapers are being constructed in Senai, Malaysia, whereby six-sides “boxes” are cast in concrete. These modules are then shipped across the border to Singapore, where they are fitted out and moved to the construction site.

The article notes that an unintended additional benefit to PPVC arose as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic: Fewer people are required at the construction site at any given time, reducing the risk of exposure or transmission of the virus.

Construction on Avenue South Residences has begun, and the developers are aiming to finish the project by the first quarter of 2023. Once completed, the towers’ façades will boast private balconies, sun-shading screens, and a number of so-called “sky terraces” landscaped with lush foliage.

The “sky terraces” at Avenue South Residences

For a prefab structure, building 56 floors is quite a vertical challenge. ADDP Architect Markus Cheng Thuan Hann explained that, unlike traditional construction, PPVC requires each module to be lifted into place. The modules are anything but lightweight. “It’s concrete, and we have to lift it very high,” Hann explained. “I think 56 stories will be the tallest in Singapore for the time being. I don’t think we will stretch any further.”

Avenue South Residences will be located in the Bukit Merah neighbourhood of Singapore.

Avenue South Residences’ towers will be just part of the development

All images are artist renderings, with credit to ADDP Architects.

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