Singapore in the morning. Alagusundaram Palaniappan is supervising the installation of a concrete module in the Clement Canopy project (Dragages Singapore), in which two 140 meter residential towers are being constructed in the Jurong Lake student quarter in a western neighborhood of the capital. The chief surveyor is watching to see that the tricky operation goes off smoothly. A precast module weighing 23 tons is being lifted to the seventeenth floor of one tower so that it can be placed on the top of the other. Several things immediately strike one as unusual. First, only two men are involved in lifting the module; then a small team of just four men set it in place in ten minutes. No noise of trucks, no dust produced by concreting operations, no scraps of steel or plastic visible.
Clearly, Clement Canopy is different from other projects. It is being carried out with a modular construction technique, or more precisely, with Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC), as it is called in Singapore. The blocks that make up the building are prefabricated and mostly finished both inside and out at plants offsite. They are then brought here and assembled. This technique is very popular with the Singapore government, which is eager to increase productivity in the construction sector and is now demanding in many projects that 65 percent of the building superstructures be constructed with PPVC.