Modular Construction vs Traditional Construction


A Total Cost of Ownership Comparison of Data Centre Construction



By Danilo Arba

Milan, Italy


Lima, Peru




In 2019 the value of modular data centre was valued at USD 17.67 billion[1] with a 2025 market value expected at USD 72.53 billion. The trend of the market is pushing to reduced deployment time, driven by the significant increase of digital data and 5G technology

As more and more organization are now passing or adopting more cloud-based solutions, the construction of data centres is experiencing a steady growth around the world driving the ever-present discussion, within the data centre construction world, of traditional construction data centres against modular data centres. Especially when the discussion touches the cost argument disagreement arises on the potential cost advantages and scalability advantages of modular data centres against traditional data centres.

Key Words:     Data Centre, Modular Data Centre, Total Cost of Ownership, Digital engineering, Modular Construction, Traditional Construction, Customization, Process


In late 2011, a 328-foot-tall or 99 meters, 30 story tower called the T30 appeared in China’s Hunan Province, almost from nowhere, and was built in just 15 days at a fraction of the typical construction cost! The actual construction video is impressive to look at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UQDn5bKrGQ

Fig.01: Completed T30 building in Huna Province, China[2]

But how did they manage to do it? The answer is simple, with modular construction.

“Modular construction is a process in which a building is constructed off-site, under controlled plant conditions, using the same materials and designing to the same codes and standards as conventionally built facilities – but in a reduced time. Buildings are produced in “modules” that when put together on-site, reflect the identical design intent and specifications of the most sophisticated site-built facility – without compromise.”[3]


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Arba, D. (2020). Modular Construction vs Traditional Construction, a Total Cost of Ownership Comparison of Data Centre Construction, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue I, January. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/pmwj101-Jan2021-Arba-modular-construction-vs-traditional-construction-a-comparison.pdf



About the Author

Danilo Arba

Milan, Italy
Lima, Peru


Danilo Arba is a project controls & management enthusiast, with 20 years of experience. Certified Cost Engineer and Executive MBA from Politecnico di Milano. Thorough understanding of EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) industry, with verifiable track record of planning multimillion/billion-dollar worldwide construction projects. He lived & worked all his life around the world from South America, Africa, South East Asia to Europe. Adept at building and leading cross-functional teams from project conception to completion, optimising performance, contractual, and financial deliverables. Currently furthering his education by way of a distance learning mentoring course, under the tutorage of Dr Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS, GPM-m Senior Technical Advisor, PT Mitrata Citragraha, to attain Guild of Project Controls certification.

Danilo lives in Milan, Italy and Lima, Peru and can be contacted at danilo.arba@mip.polimi.it

To view other works by Mr. Arba, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/danilo-arba/


[1] Modular data centre market | Growth, trends, and forecasts (2020-2025). (n.d.). Mordor Intelligence. https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/modular-data-centre-market

[2] T30 hotel – The skyscraper centre. (n.d.). The Skyscraper Centre. Https://www.skyscrapercentre.com/building/t30/14432

[3] What is modular construction? | Modular building institute. (n.d.). Modular Building Institute. https://www.modular.org/HtmlPage.aspx?name=why_modular