Pop-up office block


One of the world’s largest port developments has been equipped with modern offices in just 30 days using prefabricated units sourced from China. Jim Simpson reports

Located south of the Qatari capital Doha, the US$7.4bn New Port Project (NPP) comprises the port itself plus a new base for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces and a new industrial and residential development known as the Qatar Economic Zone 3. The project will cover an area of 26.5km2.

The port is being built in three phases, the first having a capacity of two million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) a year and two million tonnes of general cargo. On completion the port’s capacity will be more than 12 million TEUs a year.

But the port cannot function without the equipment and personnel to monitor and control the vessel movements so an office complex, the last piece of the first phase, has had to be installed swiftly.

The new complex comprises eight blocks, each made up from 182 modular flat-pack units which provide a total of 168 offices with a floorspace of 2,268m2.

US-based procurement company Source Supply obtained and acquired the materials for the eight prefab buildings from Prefab Building Solutions (PBS), a British/Irish-owned modular building supply company headquartered in Shanghai, China.

PBS delivered the materials in 168 flat-pack containers to the port management in Doha in November 2015. They were then assembled by Source Supply staff in just 10 days and the resulting office blocks were finished and fitted out within a month. They were ready for occupation before the end of the year.

The Chinese-designed flat-pack buildings are suitable not only for offices but also for site accommodation, kitchens and mess halls. The buildings are designed so that nearly all components can be lifted by just two workers and connected simply using nuts and bolts, so the labour only needs to be semi-skilled.

The need for heavy machinery is kept to a minimum too, and the only elements that need to be hoisted are the floor and roof trusses, which can be done with a small crane.

Although flat-pack panelised buildings can be adapted to fit any shape or size, the shipping costs are kept down by ensuring that all designs will fit into a 20’ shipping container. The modular design also allows for remodelling of the original configuration to accommodate the expansion or contraction of site operations at a later date.

Like all the oil-dependent Gulf states, Qatar has had to develop a plan for life beyond 2030 when it will need to sustain its own development and a growing population without recourse to petro-dollars.

The result is a massive surge in infrastructure projects, many of which have been fast-tracked since Qatar secured its bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. One of the biggest is the New Port Project which is located close to the existing Mesaieed Industrial City. This sits on a major shipping channel and has its own port to service heavy industries and a wide range of petroleum products.

The raw materials Qatar needs to complete these large construction projects require capacity which the current port does not have – and it must have the capacity in place to complete key infrastructure projects in readiness for the 2022 World Cup.

Currently Qatar’s economy is 79% industrial, with half of this related to oil and gas exports. The ultimate aim of the NPP is to develop the non-hydrocarbon sector and create a more sustainable economic base in accordance with the Qatar National Vision 2030.

The NPP is also intended to transform the country into an import hub for the region so that it is more resilient to changes in the global economic environment. It therefore has links to other transport networks such as Hamad International Airport and the railway and road networks that are also under development.


Further Images

This article was published on 18 Oct 2016 (last updated on 18 Oct 2016).

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