Modular construction takes centre stage in Wembley

With views across London and Wembley Stadium, students moving into London’s newest skyscraper will be surprised to learn that the 29-storey tower was built in a factory in Bedford.

The 580-bed Apex House was developed by Tide Construction with its associate company Vision Modular Systems.

The 90-metre tower was completed in just 12 months from start to finish, with the 679 modules taking 13 weeks to install. A development of this scale built using traditional bricks and mortar would have taken over 24 months to complete.

In addition to the scheme’s proximity to Wembley Stadium and excellent transport links into central London, the building provides a range of communal facilities for the students, such as a cinema and an outdoor courtyard.

The tower was designed by HTA Design Limited and will be operated by Scape.

Christy Hayes, chief executive of Tide Construction Ltd, said:

“Apex House stands tall as an example of what modular construction can bring to the UK’s housing market. It is a fast, safe and sustainable way of building high-quality homes throughout the UK that are backed by registered insurers.”

Apex House is one of many modular developments underway across the UK as modular construction continues to gain support as a credible solution to Britain’s housing crisis.

Manufacturing in a controlled environment improves the quality of homes, site safety and severely reduces disruption to the local area through minimised traffic and a reduced need for heavy machinery. It also cuts overall waste by up to 90 per cent, making it a more environmentally friendly method of construction than traditional techniques.

Due to the reduced need for onsite labour, modular construction will be crucial as the construction workforce continues to shrink due to an ageing workforce losing 70,000 workers each year. The looming end to the free movement of workers will only worsen this problem as up to a quarter of London’s construction workers coming from the EU.

The completion of Apex House comes at a time when the student housing market is booming, with research suggesting that it will account for £1 in every £10 invested in commercial property this year, with £5.4 billion worth of deals expected to be done – up from £3.2 billion last year. Much of this investment is expected in the capital.

Christy Hayes, chief executive officer at Tide Construction, said:

“The completion of Apex House is a real milestone for Tide Construction and the entire modular sector. As the tallest modular building in Europe, the development is testimony to the quality we can deliver for the UK property market, whether its student accommodation, hotels, for-sale homes or build to rent. The support of both the government and the industry of this emerging build technology mean that modular construction will undoubtedly play a part in solving Britain’s housing crisis.”

Tom Devaney, managing director at Scape, said:

“This week we opened Scape Wembley, formerly known as Apex House, and welcomed students to their new home, providing the students with great facilities in a fantastic location. This is the first Scape tower development using Tide and Vision’s original and innovative modular format and we are extremely pleased with the quality of the scheme.”

Rory Bergin, partner at HTA Design LLP, said:

“Projects like Apex House show the true potential of modular construction in the UK, where great design meets innovative technology. The speed at which buildings can be erected, and the quality of the homes built, makes modular construction a vital component of increased housing supply.”