Comparative analysis of modular construction practices in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore

Zhao Xu, Tarek Zayed, Yumin Niu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


Modular construction is considered as the future of the construction industry. While the sector is growing rapidly in some areas, there are still barriers to overcome. For more than two decades, several regions and countries, such as mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore, were using prefabricated/precast components to construct high-rise buildings in both private and public sectors. Such practices suffered from several limitations, which warrant the need for modular construction. Modular construction method needs to evolve so as to meet different regional requirements and restrictions, namely regulations, economy, market and building types. But the regional requirements and constraints on adopting modular construction remain unexplored. These differences are not widely appreciated. Hence, this research aims to perform comparative analysis of modular construction practices in terms of policies, specifications, and real projects in Hong Kong, Singapore, and mainland China. The results of the comparative analysis indicate that Singapore has developed a relatively effective policy system to help the construction industry embrace modular construction, while the three regions have not issued authoritative specifications. In general, modular construction still needs more support from the government, especially in terms of technical guidance and innovation. Cases studies show that the sustainability performance of modular construction is not balanced in terms of the economic, social and environmental dimensions. The lessons and challenges of modular construction drawn from the cases are also summarized. The construction industry should work closely with the government to achieve sustainable construction of modular building. The developed research on modular construction will increase the understanding of common practices in close countries where the industry in each can benefit from such practices to advance the domain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118861
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Case studies
  • Comparative analysis
  • Modular construction
  • Policies
  • Specifications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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