Vectorbloc Q&A

Vectorbloc Q&A

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What is the story behind Vectorbloc?

As several recent projects have demonstrated, existing approaches to modular building tend to hit a technical ceiling at 5-10 stories, due mainly to the effects of tolerance accumulations and a lack of structural capacity.

Seeing an opportunity to meet the demand for a standard, tall-capable modular building system, in early 2013 our experienced architectural design and manufacturing team began the development of what eventually became Vectorbloc. Our work was informed by our own experience in modular fabrication and construction, extensive research, numerous plant and site tours and interviews with project managers and field staff.

Throughout the design phase we kept the focus on utility, cost, speed and accuracy, and the result is what we believe to be a simple, well-conceived and thoroughly-integrated suite of connections, production fixtures and construction tools.

The best part: The resulting system is not just Tall-Capable, but All-Capable; In other words it is well suited to buildings of almost any size or type.

Why is a standardized modular construction system needed?

Multiple companies have experimented with modular construction. Typically, these experimental projects are focused on a narrow range of product types, they are top-down, consultant-driven efforts, or they are driven by marketing criteria. Consequently these systems fail to provide adequate flexibility for designers and they are difficult to execute on the shop floor.

As a result of overly narrow focus, the companies deploying new systems complete only one or two projects before realizing that almost every new building type will require a complete re-design. Worse, the entire cost of the modular design development process is borne by a single project and total costs actually exceed the cost of a conventional building.

Vectorbloc was conceived to end this constant re-design by uniting and addressing the requirements of a broad spectrum of the modular industry, thereby supporting its move from niche to mainstream.

Even the design and engineering process is conceived as modular. Combined with physical modularity, modular design enables automation of the entire sales, design, estimating and production processes. The result is reduced cost at all phases of the process, especially the un-funded sales phase.

Most importantly, standardization enables multiple trade suppliers, fabricators, erectors and others involved in the building process to produce compatible building subassemblies without the need for complex coordination processes.

What kind of structures can you build with Vectorblocs?

Vectorblocs enable many different sizes and shapes of buildings, including tall and curvilinear buildings, to be designed and built with a consistent and repeatable set of details. Because it is structurally scalable, Vectorbloc is neither overbuilt for small buildings, nor inadequate for tall ones. Vectorbloc is also suited to both panelized and volumetric (factory-finished) modules.

Even tall, slender towers are possible with the basic system, or through the addition of integral steel-plate-clad shear walls in the core. This innovative solution delivers an accurate structure with exceptional resistance to drift, while eliminating the work involved in hoisting, assembling and stripping formwork and shoring jacks, as well as pour stop layouts at each floor.

Even long-span structures such as stadiums and airports can benefit from the deployment of volumetric modular components in back-of-house / operational areas, such as catering facilities, administration buildings, hotels, bridges and piers, etc.

Vectorblocs are also well-suited to housing and joining industrial structures, like pipe racks, datacentre modules and modular refining or generating stations.
Currently we see a good fit in the following markets:

  • Low rise and high-rise buildings
  • Single family dwellings in a variety of settings
  • Apartments, hotels and dormitories
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Offices, research and administration buildings
  • Energy and chemical facilities
  • Urban infill projects, especially sites with access issues
  • Relocatable / emergency facilities
  • Model suites, travelling exhibits, retail, food and beverage kiosks, special event facilities and other relocatable or plug-and-play applications
  • Housings for specialized equipment to be integrated in to a building

Is Vectorbloc “Green”?

HSS is the most efficiently-shaped structural section and HSS itself is made with steel that is significantly stronger (by weight) than structural steel. Vectorbloc-based modules are constructed primarily with HSS and the structures are easy to optimize based on the actual loading at each point in the building. In most cases the cast steel Vectorbloc connectors themselves are made with a high ratio of both pre and post-consumer recycled steel.

These factors combine to reduce the use of new material, making the Vectorbloc System one of the “Greenest” steel-based offsite construction systems available.

Why is volumetric modular construction better?

Volumetric modular construction is defined as the stacking of factory-finished modules to form a substantially complete building. Unlike conventional construction, or even panelized modular construction, volumetric building assembly enables the greatest percentage of factory completion, because the interior finishes, exterior cladding, FF&E and MEP can all be factory installed. This leave only mateline work for completion in the field.

So if you believe (as we do) that manufacturing buildings in a well-organized factory is better than building on a site, then the achievable percentage of off-site completion is a key metric of modular process excellence.

What is the future of Vectorbloc?

Just as the ISO corner made containerized shipping possible, we are confident that Vectorbloc will become the standard system for the assembly, transportation, hoisting and interconnection of volumetric modules and related panels.

I am a developer and I have a project that would suit Vectorbloc, what next?

We would be happy to quote your project. In fact we have received strong interest from design-build developers and have proceeded directly to quotes on their projects. As a result we are already developing an inventory of stock engineering solutions that can help shorten “conversion time”.

I am a modular builder and the Vectorbloc System makes sense to me, what next?

If you are interested in becoming a licensed manufacturer or distributor of the Vectorbloc system, or if you want to learn more about our company, please contact the President of Vector Praxis, Julian Bowron.

I am a steel or HSS producer and this looks like it could open new markets for us, what next?

If you are interested in becoming a licensed manufacturer or distributor of the Vectorbloc system, or if you want to learn more about our company, please contact the President of Vector Praxis, Julian Bowron.