Featured in The West Australian: From Melbourne to Regional WA

A unique construction technology developed by Hickory has hit the WA market with a promise to halve building periods and help address the acute accommodation shortage.

Hickory has started on the $45 million, 235-room hotel, developed by the Centauri group in Port Hedland, with its modular construction method – Unitised Building.

Purpose-built, steel-shelled units are made at a Melbourne factory, which are then assembled on site.

The company claims the method halves construction time compared with traditional concrete buildings, with the Port Hedland development to be complete in six months.

Hickory also claims that its technology emits 80 per cent less waste and 15per cent less energy and that it uses 75per cent more recycled materials, reducing the carbon footprint.

Hickory chief executive Michael Argrou said the company wanted to develop a strong market in regional WA, which was suffering an acute accommoriation shortage.

The shortage had led to rents of about $2000 a week for a four-bedroom home in some North-West mining towns.

Mr Argyrou said he was in talks with developers in the resource sector and in Perth.

"The product is suitable for the regions, and it will mean that the mining boom can leave something more substantial than dongas," he said.

"The UB System suits the needs of remote, harsh environments like those in WA.

"Off-site manufacturing of the product means labour shortages won’t delay the project."

The next project on the books was the construction of stage two of the Port Hedland hotel, bringing the total for the development to 400 rooms.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia last year recognised just how significantly the technology reduces construction time when it awarded Hickory a gong for its apartment block in East Coburg, Melbourne, called The Nicholson.

Judges said shorter construction times reduced costs.

Mr Argyrou said as well as the time and cost benefits, the appearance was also pleasing.

"It is essentially made with a steel shell but it looks and feels like a normal building, and no-one can tell the difference."

The company has used the technology to build more than 2000 apartments in Melbourne.

Kim McDonald

West Australian

Wednesday 6/6/2012

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