Skip navigation

Structural and Materials Engineering

Development of Affordable Steel-Framed Modular Buildings for Emergency Situations (COVID-19)

(The first research combining structural engineering and COVID-19)

This paper presents the development of novel affordable steel-framed modular units for construction with enhanced overall (healthcare, structural, fire, and lightweight) performance, which ideally suits for emergency response situation, such as current COVID-19 pandemic. The nature of quick response and well-prepared strategies are essential to cope with the demand of quicker construction for emergency response structures and if similar situation continues or arises in the future as well. Off-site oriented modular construction is ideal to provide these requirements at a very short notice for emergencies. Modular units made of steel components are a leading choice due to the exceptional strength and rigidity for lightweight construction.

A new weight optimization procedure was developed for Cold-Formed Steel joists in varying shapes of and results show that weight for per unit length of the joists can be reduced up to 24% without compromising structural capacity. This was verified with validated Finite Element models. In order to improve the faster jointing method, a novel cut and bend intra-module connection was also introduced. In addition, strap bracing is used for the lateral stability of steel-framed modular buildings. Modular breathing panels are proposed to be employed in corner post modules as sidewalls to improve the indoor air quality and reduce the spread of disease. Based on the comprehensive assessment and numerical results conceptual design of performance improved steel-framed corner post modular unit was proposed to offer short-to-medium (in response to emergencies), as well as long-term solutions for the construction industry.

Publication: Structures – Q1 Journal [February 2021] (In press)

Project: Optimum Design of Cold-Formed Steel Beams for Modular Building Applications

Principal Supervisor: A/Prof. Keerthan Poologanathan

Authors: Perampalam. G., Poologanathan. K., Shanmuganathan. G., Islam S., Sherlock. P., Heshachanaa. R., and Nagaratnam. B. 


Future Engineering

Researchers within our Future Engineering multidisciplinary research theme are exploring what technologies will be heating our homes and driving our cars in 20 years time.

Explore Campus Facilities

Get an insight into life at Northumbria with videos and 360 panoramas of the Department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering.


Mechanical & Construction Engineering Courses

With a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and distance learning Mechanical & Construction Engineering courses, whatever you want to get out of university, let us show you why you want Northumbria University, Newcastle!


Mechanical & Construction Engineering Staff

Our Mechanical & Construction Engineering students learn from the best – inspirational academic staff with a genuine passion for their subject. Our courses are at the forefront of current knowledge and practice and are shaped by world-leading and internationally excellent research.

a group of people around each other

Undergraduate Open Day Events

Looking to study in with us in September? Our Undergraduate Open Day Events are the perfect opportunity for you to find out as much as you can about our wide range of courses and world-class facilities.

Latest News and Features

Former World Cup alpine ski racer, Chemmy Alcott is pictured with Abigail Brierley and Deputy Editor of the New Civil Engineer, Belinda Smart
Pictured is Northumbria University’s Ahmed Elmarakbi, a Professor of Automotive Composites
Guardian University Guide 2024, Top 40 text graphic.
Northumbria University's City Campus
ICMPC logo
Professor Guillaume Zoppi and Professor John Woodward
More news
More events

Upcoming events

EcoMat Conference 2024

Back to top