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Modular construction vs. container buildings – what is the difference?

Often, the terms modular construction and container construction are equated with one another. Wrongly. CHRISTMANN + PFEIFER explains.

“Modular construction… isn't that about the containers? Oh isn't it? But what is the difference?"

Many people who deal with modular construction ask this question, because in practice different terms are often equated with one another or sometimes mixed up. We try to shed some light on the darkness and explain both terms.

Modular construction: fast and in series, yet individually built

The modular design has been enjoying increasing popularity for some time. This is mainly due to the special design of modular buildings. In this case, the term construction method could actually be replaced by the word production, because in modular construction, modular room elements are first industrially prefabricated in the factory and only brought to the construction site for final assembly. That is why the modular design primarily stands for:

  • consistently high quality
    through controlled series production and standardized processes
  • cost security
    through reliable calculation and fixed price guarantee
  • deadline security
    through industrial production and just-in-time delivery
  • speed
    through parallel processes in the factory and on the construction site

In principle, the modular construction is suitable for new buildings, renovations or extensions of all kinds. Office and administration buildings, daycare centers / kindergartens and schools or even residential and nursing homes – whenever buildings with many identical usage units are required, modular construction can show its advantages thanks to serial production.

Standardized and in series: Yes. Monotonous and boring: No!

The layout and design of a modular building are based 100 percent on the requirements of the respective project. In daycare, for example, there are other requirements in terms of spatial organization, security, accessibility and technology than in office and administrative buildings or in the construction of dormitories. All these aspects are taken into account in the planning and implementation phase. This always creates an individual solution. As a further advantage of the modular design, in addition to the ones already mentioned above, the following can be added:

  • flexibility
    through individual design options for the modules

Container buildings: mobile and temporary

In contrast to modular buildings, which are intended for permanent use, container buildings primarily serve to cover temporary space requirements. For municipalities, industry and commerce, they often represent a pragmatic and short-term solution if there is a temporary need for additional space.

Containers are easy to transport, quick to set up and flexible in use. The spectrum ranges from simple construction containers to highly thermally insulated containers. One of their greatest advantages is that they can be easily dismantled and reassembled. However, unlike modular buildings, containers are subject to restrictions with regard to the architectural design and layout.

Modular construction and container buildings: two different pairs of shoes

While container solutions score points with their mobility and their flexible use in terms of time, modular buildings focus on particular advantages due to their serial production in combination with architectural and design flexibility. Thus, the modular construction cannot be compared with the container construction, but rather as an alternative to the conventional construction.