Up until recently most supermarkets were built as traditional brick and mortar structures. Now, though, many supermarkets have taken on a more modular, prefabricated approach creating many benefits associated with speed, cost and environmental issues.
Benefits of prefabricated supermarkets
Prefabricated supermarket buildings can be built much quicker than more permanent traditional buildings. In this hugely competitive market sector where each player is jostling for market share and a place amongst the “big four” of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, the ability to build new stores quickly is key.
With a prefab supermarket most of the delays will probably be associated with gaining planning permission. Once the green light has been given, a store could be built and operational in a matter of weeks.
A speedy construction process also equates to cost savings; labour, equipment, contractors, architects and every other third party involved in the project won’t have to invest as much time. Six months could become six weeks, creating huge time savings and many associated cost savings.
Not unique to prefabricated buildings and supermarkets but certainly something seen with more modern constructions is the use of energy efficient materials and components and of course, solar panels. Aldi, which uses prefabricated supermarkets almost as standard, state on their website they have solar panels installed in over 240 of their UK stores. The renewal energy from the panels is used to provide electricity to their stores and distribution centres.
Although prefabricated buildings and supermarkets are probably not going to win any architectural design awards, they have developed over the years into attractive, clean, bright and modern structures in our urban spaces. Even considering the fact that supermarkets cannot really be more than a large box shaped structure, architects are now incorporating more modern designs into the overall concepts.
Options for Prefabricated Supermarkets
For such large, long-term installations, the preferred choice among many is a steel prefabricated structure. Steel will provide the strength and longevity required. The main disadvantage of steel, which is its corrosive nature, will be hidden by modern, attractive wall and roof panelling.
Aluminium prefabricated supermarkets are also becoming more popular as a short or long-term solution. They are suitable to use as a temporary supermarket during a refurb or rebuild project or a semi-permanent facility.
Where an aluminium prefabricated unit will score over steel is the installation time; instead of weeks, it can become days to get the structure in place and ready for fit out. This is because the frame is light enough to not need any groundworks and is also easier and quicker to handle, lift and work with.
The lightweight qualities of aluminium don’t render it weak or inferior, however. Manufacturers of these structures have to ensure they are engineering buildings to meet British Standards for snow and wind loading and are compliant with UK Building Regs for structural integrity.
With its ability to be recycled practically indefinitely and using a process that requires minimal energy, aluminium scores high on the environmental chart. This makes it a material for the future and perhaps something we will see in many more prefabricated supermarkets and buildings in times to come.