Timber-frame construction breaks through decisively into large-scale façade construction
Genk-based timber-frame construction firm Machiels Building Solutions (MBS) is celebrating after landing two prestigious new façade construction projects for 2020: Doktoren in Antwerp (Belgium) and The Cube in Utrecht (Netherlands). The company, which is part of Group Machiels, owes its success in façade construction to one specific advantage: industrial prefabrication of timber-frame construction components means that the hard work takes place inside (at its production facility) rather than outside (on the building site). This makes the construction process more efficient.
The integrated and controlled nature of prefabrication enhances the overall quality of the façade and reduces the on-site build time. Not only do all the parts fit together perfectly, but all responsibility for façade construction lies with one party. Furthermore, timber-frame construction specialist MBS has developed a technique for installing its prefab components without the need for scaffolding, which makes the whole process quick and efficient.
Faster, more efficient production
As time goes on, contractors are finding fewer and fewer skilled workers willing to spend whole days on scaffolding in all weathers, performing arduous construction tasks. Prefabricated timber-frame construction components offer a solution to labour and skills shortages on building sites, explains MBS General Manager Filip Vercauteren: "Timber-frame construction allows us to bring the work indoors. The components – including windows, doors, façade cladding and any internal services – are prefabricated in a modern production plant before façade construction begins. This can be done around the clock if necessary."
Quality checks prior to construction
Manufacturing in a controlled environment also prevents construction errors. "The façade construction process is much more efficient because you can plan more effectively and don't have to deal with the disruption that comes from being outside in the elements," Filip says. "Quality controls take place during production and again before the consignment leaves the plant. Delivering ready-to-use timber-frame components speeds up construction on site and makes façade construction projects easier to oversee."
No scaffolding means additional savings
There is also a crucial advantage on site, as Filip explains: "MBS has refined the assembly process to avoid the need for scaffolding. We install all façade panels using a tower crane, which is also used during construction of the building shell. This avoids scaffolding costs and means we can work much faster, reducing the inconvenience for the surrounding area. By planning delivery of the timber-frame components carefully, we ensure that the site remains accessible and keep transport to a minimum. There is minimal storage on site: everything that is delivered is assembled straight away, rather than being stored until needed. That's a huge advantage, especially in an urban environment."
Façade construction in the spotlight
Doktoren – Antwerp
The Doktoren (Dock Tower) is being built in Antwerp's Eilandje district. The 81-metre-high residential block, containing 152 apartments over 24 floors, will be a striking new landmark on the Kempisch Dok. MBS is constructing the façade, in partnership with Binst Architects, main contractor Interbuild and project developers Immpact and Kairos.
The Cube – Utrecht
Student housing is in high demand in Utrecht. Designed by TEAM V Architectuur, The Cube is an eye-catching new complex that will provide an additional 629 units of student accommodation in the city's Overvecht district. Construction team partners MBS, Blitta and Vandersanden are building the façade on behalf of construction firm Van Wijnen Utrecht