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First off-site multi-storey modular building in Latin America

Built in just 100 days using 500 tonnes of steel supplied by Gerdau, this new project is a milestone in civil construction.

The new 8-storey commercial building, located in the central region of Tubarão, in Santa Catarina, Brazil is approximately 3,300 m² and was manufactured and installed in just 100 days.

Brasil ao Cubo (BR3), a construction technology startup in which Gerdau holds an ownership interest as part of its New Business division, Gerdau Next, launches the first off-site modular multi-floor building in Latin America.

The speedy delivery was made possible thanks to the constructive model used by BR3: a modular off-site construction, which takes place entirely outside the construction site. This means that nearly 100% of the building was made in the Brasil ao Cubo industrial park and then transported in “slices” to the destined location, where these modules were coupled onto the foundation. Among the main characteristics that differentiate off-site construction from a traditional one is its short-term completion, as the delivery process is on average four times quicker.

Level Building under construction

According to Ricardo Mateus, CEO and founder of Brasil ao Cubo, the entire manufacturing and installation process is innovative, and this new building will be a milestone for civil construction. “We structured the entire work in just 100 days, 20 of which were dedicated exclusively to coupling. Considering its dimensions and deadlines, we can say that this is a unique project in Latin America”.

All structures were made of steel supplied by Gerdau, which, in October 2020, announced its investment in a 33% stake in Brasil ao Cubo, yet another step by Gerdau Next, its new business branch. 500 tonnes of steel were used, equivalent to 25% of the volume of materials, for the construction of the commercial building in record time.

“In addition to steel being among the most recyclable materials in the world, Brasil ao Cubo points out another advantage of the construction method used in this work: the significant reduction in material waste. In an off-site project like this, BR3 can reduce the disposal of materials by up to 10 times when compared to a traditional reinforced concrete job”, says Ricardo Mateus.

Completed Level Building in Santa Catarina, Brazil

“With their participation in this construtech, Gerdau advances in its innovation thesis for the future of construction, in which the company proposes to contribute to the reduction of a relevant productivity gap in the construction industry, through the adoption of new methods and technologies” says Juliano Prado, Vice President of Gerdau and responsible for Gerdau Next.

The conceptual building, designed by the architecture firm ATO9, has “lightness” as its premise and has a large projected atrium that rises to all floors. On the ground floor, there will be an entrance hall and a living area, in addition to the convenience of the Premier Gas Station Network, the project’s investor. Two floors will function as a coworking space, while two other floors will be occupied by Brasil ao Cubo, with 80 working stations, and the remaining floors will be rented to other companies.

Sustainability

Sustainability is a milestone in this project. Water, for example, was hardly used during the manufacturing process. In addition, the new project included the capture and storage of rainwater by means of cisterns, photovoltaic panels that convert solar energy into electricity, intumescent paint – to protect the structures against fire, plus a rooftop. The building has a cross-ventilation system, modular windshields, and laminated glass that reduce the need for air conditioning and improve internal thermal comfort.

Modular construction and strategic partnerships

This and other BR3 buildings have the innovative BR3 Plug and Play system that makes the execution of projects even easier. Thanks to it, the electrical and hydraulic systems and other stages are already ready at the factory, while the infrastructure is prepared at the installation site for the arrival of modules that are easily coupled in a few hours.

Ricardo Mateus also adds that in order to transform processes and generate value through construction that uses technology, having a relationship with good partners is essential. “Without good suppliers and partners, such as Gerdau, it would not be feasible to manage construction as quickly and efficiently. Steel was essential in this process as it contributes to an accurate dimensional fit, in addition to being light, excluding the need for large equipment for handling it,” says the CEO of Brasil ao Cubo.

“We were mentors of Brasil ao Cubo through an internal startup acceleration program in 2018, when we invested in the company and now, as a result of this successful partnership, we are inaugurating this commercial building in Tubarão” adds Prado.

In addition to Santa Catarina, Brasil ao Cubo has already delivered projects in 14 other Brazilian states. In partnership with Gerdau and other companies in the construction sector they have been using the off-site modular technique for three new treatment centres to combat COVID-19 in the municipalities of São Paulo and Porto Alegre.

Images: Brasil ao Cubo