Development of affordable steel-framed modular buildings for emergency situations (Covid-19)

Perampalam Gatheeshgar, Keerthan Poologanathan, Shanmuganathan Gunalan, Islam Shyha, Paul Sherlock, Heshachanaa Rajanayagam, Brabha Nagaratnam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the development of novel affordable steel-framed modular units for construction with enhanced overall (healthcare, structural, fire, and lightweight) performance, which ideally suits for emergency response situation, such as current covid-19 pandemic. The nature of quick response and well-prepared strategies are essential to cope with the demand of quicker construction for emergency response structures and if similar situation continues or arises in the future as well. Off-site oriented modular construction is ideal to provide these requirements at very short notice for emergencies. Modular units made of steel components are a leading choice due to the exceptional strength and rigidity for lightweight construction. A new weight optimisation procedure was developed for Cold-Formed Steel (CFS) joists in varying shapes of and results show that weight for per unit length of the joists can be reduced up to 24% without compromising structural capacity. This was verified with validated Finite Element (FE) models. In order to improve the faster jointing method, a novel cut and bend intra-module connection was also introduced. In addition, strap bracing is used for the lateral stability of steel-framed modular buildings. Modular breathing panels are proposed to be employed in corner post modules as sidewalls to improve the indoor air quality and reduce the spread of disease. Based on the comprehensive assessment and numerical results conceptual design of performance improved steel-framed corner post modular unit was proposed to offer short-to-medium (in response to emergencies), as well as long-term solutions for the construction industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-875
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
To be a source for well-prepared strategies and understanding the present and future demand, this paper is aimed at developing overall performance improved light gauge steel modular units. The convenience of steel-framed modular construction was deeply investigated to be employed especially in global emergencies like covid-19 and for any upcoming global emergencies. More attention was also provided to develop a structurally stable and performance improved, lightweight healthcare volumetric modular units for emergencies. This was achieved through ensuring modular units composed of the structurally improved essential components such as beams, columns, connections, and bracings and introducing new techniques. The proposal for the overall improved volumetric modular units was supported by optimisation studies, physical testing results, and advanced finite element modelling. Combining all the results, a conceptual design of overall performance improved corner post-modular units is presented to be used for short term and long term needs.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Institution of Structural Engineers


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