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Smart Box completes modular construction

by Gavin Gibbon on Sep 17, 2014



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Smart Box Industries LLC, the region’s leading modular construction specialist, has pioneered a novel, eco-friendly trend in modular construction through converting commissioned off shipping containers into habitable spaces.

Composed largely of recycled materials well past its initial intended use, container buildings leave minimal carbon footprint while providing enduring structural framework that can be adapted to suit any design aesthetics.

Geo-Chem Middle East, one of the largest inspection and laboratory testing organisations in the area, own the MENA region’s first permanent modular building.

Manufactured and assembled by Smart Box, the new 13,440ft2 headquarters of Geo-Chem consists of 42 units of 40 feet high cube containers, and has been functional since November 2013 at Techno Park, Dubai.

The Geo-Chem facility meets all the requirements of a commercial building. Besides an open-plan office with natural lighting using tubular skylights seats over 150 staff, it also has a reception area, several individual cabins and a pantry-cum-dining room. In addition, it hosts a capacious archive spread across 5,200ft2 as well as conference, IT, prayer and ablution rooms.

Arjun Menon, managing director – Smart Box Industries, said: “Though the idea of up-cycling containers is a new one in the region, we are confident that it will revolutionize the region’s construction industry. The technology has been incorporated successfully across developed nations worldwide such as the UK, USA, Australia and Netherlands, and the GCC region’s booming construction scene can benefit tremendously from it.

“Smart Box has the technology, expertise and the raw materials – all we needed was a client willing to take a bold stance and give us the go ahead. Mr Rajiv Bahl, the visionary Managing Director of Geo Chem Middle East, was convinced by the viability of container conversion, and was keen to be the trendsetter for the technology in the region.”

Separate modules were prefabricated according to specifications at the Smart Box facility in Al Quoz Industrial Area and transported to the site in Techno Park. The installation was completed in four working days, setting a new record in terms of construction time.

Rajiv Bahl, managing director of Geo-Chem Middle East, said: “We are proud to be the owner of the first permanent modular building in the region made of shipping containers, contributing to the UAE’s green buildings initiative. I am confident that time will prove my decision to lead the region’s industry with a new building standard to be an informed and wise one.”

Shipping container conversion is among the most sustainable and green construction options available today. Not only does it entail constructive use of carefully selected, commissioned-off containers which would otherwise be scrapped or recycled, it also minimises the consumption of resources such as steel, cement and wood, which translates to minimal environmental pollution and reduced carbon footprint. Such construction has the least impact on land as it does not require foundations to be dug.

Menon added, “As with any new technology in the region, the concept had to be evaluated by the authorities and approved. Being the first of its kind in the region, statutory approvals were granted by the authorities after due diligence by all departments. We are certain that the processes shall be expeditious for future projects as the building system approval is already a precedent.”

Marine containers are made of Cor-Ten or ‘weathering’ steel, a group of specialised steel alloys that make them highly corrosion resistant. Designed and manufactured to withstand the hostile maritime dynamic environment, these containers make extremely strong and flexible structural framework for buildings, regardless of whether they are used for residential, office or commercial purposes.

The steel modules are extremely safe offering resistance to fire, earthquakes, termites and other biological growth that compromise traditional building integrity, whilst exceeding the Uniform Building Code standards.

Since its inception in 1997, Smart Box has evolved into one of the region's leading pre-engineered steel modular construction experts specialising in the design, manufacture, transportation and installation of high quality, ISO marine container based products. Several new projects, including Dubai Design District – D3 Office Park commissioned by Tecom, are in the pipeline.  



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