Since Henry Ford used the production line to assembly the Ford T model in 1913, the construction industry has been searching for the optimization of resources through the standardization of constructive methods and its components.
Architecture generated by these procedures it is what we call modular architecture.
Modular architecture is based on the design and use of systems composed of separate repetitive elements (standard units), which are similar in size, shape and functional nature. These can be linked up to each other, be replaced or added.
The focal point is now placed by the industry on the modulation of tectonic pieces, which allows a more efficient and sustainable construction. This way of performing architecture has certain competitive advantages, even though certain negative connotations have also been identified. The family, the individuals and the places that interact, are not feasible to replicate, as you do when producing electrical household appliances. The modular architecture challenge for the 21st century is customization of homes without increasing prices or reducing the quality standards.
Located on Tokyo and designed by Kurokawa in 1979, Nakagin Capsule Tower building was one of the firsts examples of modular architecture, based on this modular prefabricated philosophy.
Modular architecture benefits
It is a tremendously versatile architecture and allows personalization. Versatile in the sense that can be used in permanent and temporary installations; Besides, it reaches remote places in which building a conventional home is not possible. It allows personalization because its constructive system admits adding, replacing and removing the standard units and it accepts every kind of finishings.
The buildings and modular homes features also allow minimizing its ecological footprint in two different ways. Firstly, during its construction; although it depends to a great extent on used materials and resources, the wood is for instance completely ecological and 100% recyclable, and as they areproduced in a shorter period of time, less waste is produced. Secondly, once the buildings have been constructed, they become energetically effitcient, mostly because the prefabricated pieces are geometrically perfect and they fit exactly together, which implies heating and cooling savings; We should not forget either that it is simple to add water recycling or renewable energy systems during the assembly. With current technology and resources, there is no reason to not develop ecological architectures that also mantain a contemporary language with regards to design.
As they are being constructed in a controlled environment and following standard guidelines, there is total control over the quality of the product and it meets exhaustively the required criteria for its certification. In the same way, you can get structures of perfect geometric precision and great strength, since high quality materials are being used, capable of enduring transportation.
Por último, la sistematización e industrialización de los procesos y el entorno en el que se llevan a cabo, consigue reducir el tiempo de producción con respecto al de una edificación convencional y, en consecuencia, minimizar los costes.
Finally, the systematization and industrialization of the procedures and the environment in which the process is carried out, helps reducing the time of production in relation to that of a conventional building and, as a result, it minimizes costs.
As we have learned from our experiencies on modular architecture, for example with our recent project Camouflage House, this alternative is, nowadays, not only viable but also a preferable option in specific occasions.