The first community facility to use the modular building construction method
With the popularity of smartphones nowadays, a lot of people are turning to the Internet for information. However, there are still many book lovers and public libraries are a good place for them. Hong Kong’s first 24-hour self-service library station has been launched recently, offering users very convenient round-the-clock public library services for borrowing and returning books. This library station, in fact, is also the city’s first community facility applying the concept of modular building construction method, and it was substantially completed in only four weeks. How did the construction works carried out? What are the merits of this construction method? This time, I have invited a colleague from the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) under the Development Bureau to share his experience with us.
The library station is located at the Island East Sports Centre Sitting-out Area (next to the Hong Kong Film Archive) at 52 Lei King Road, Sai Wan Ho. Operating on a self-service basis, it enables the public to borrow and return books, pick up reserved books and even pay library fees and charges with Octopus on their own by following simple on-screen instructions. This service is provided by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department while the station was designed and built by the ArchSD.
Natural materials to create harmonious spaces
A colleague from the ArchSD, Mr LAU Cheuk-kit, Paul, has shared the team’s design concepts for the library station and told me that the idea originated from our traditional Chinese use of bamboo writing slips that were subsequently made into scrolls. The bamboo-strip screen on the external wall of the station and its bamboo-tube ceiling make effective use of natural light and create a sense of spaciousness with a scholarly atmosphere. Besides, together with modern spatial composition, use of environmentally friendly materials and barrier free design, a comfortable and harmonious library station is created.
On material selection, a visual contrast is formed between the durable steel mainframe and the natural materials of bamboo and other plain-coloured materials. The bamboo-tubes ceiling and bamboo-strips screen not only allow the external space to flow into the interior, but reduce energy consumption by the use of daylight and cross-ventilation. The architect has also paid attention to the details, for example, tables with different heights are provided next to the self-service library unit for users of various ages with different needs for short readings.
Innovative concept of quick and safe building
The project also adopts the modular building construction method. The major components of the library station, including the steel structure, the bamboo-tube ceiling, the bamboo-strip screen, the stairs and ramps, were prefabricated in a Mainland factory and transported to the construction site for installation. The on-site installation of all the prefabricated parts took just about four weeks to complete substantially, during which Hong Kong was hit by Super Typhoon Hato and later Severe Tropical Storm Pakha. We can see from this that the innovative building concept has significantly reduced the environmental impacts on the surrounding areas of the site, and minimised possible disruption to the works progress due to inclement weather.
Sustainable design and flexible assembly
A community’s need for library service is influenced by factors such as the passage of time, demographic changes and the availability of new community facilities. You may not be aware that, if need arises, the entire self-service library station can be winched and transported to another site. In designing the library station, the ArchSD has made good use of the self-weight of the steel structure and the embedded concrete floor strips to enable the library station to stand without foundation. In addition to reducing the impacts on the ground surface at the site, it also facilitates the winching and relocation of the library station to another site in a short time after the removal of components such as the stairs and ramps.
It is evident from the above that, regardless of project scale, the ArchSD always gives due consideration to various aspects such as the design concept, material selection, the construction process, and even the usage after completion of the project. The ArchSD works to ensure that the completed buildings can meet the needs of the users, while creating an environment-friendly, sustainable built environment to enhance the community’s living environment. After their first attempt at this innovative construction method, I believe that colleagues from the ArchSD have gained experiences in quality control, cross-border transportation of large components, planning of building process and time management for the modular building construction method. It will certainly be useful with larger-scale building projects to be carried out in future.
31 December, 2017