Have you ever wondered why that tall building on the edge of town got built within a week? It may seem impossible and non-logical to achieve such a piece of architecture.
But, the architectural sector has seen massive growth over time, and materials that save time are now popular.
Through modular architecture, much can get accomplished in less time. We look at what this architecture term means, its challenges, and the right approach.
What is Modular Architecture?
Otherwise referred to as modular design, it is the architectural design of joining small components into one. It’s likened to pre-fabrication design, whereby several parts get assembled to form one larger unit.
In modular design, the parts get assembled off-site and transported to the site for installation. These small parts are known as modules and can get worked on independently without interfering with the other modules. This method ensures that the construction continues smoothly despite any weather constraints.
The opposite of modular architecture is integrated architecture. The latter is common in residential houses where no clear division of parts is evident.
A good example is an open office where the walls get partitioned independently. Click here for a better idea of how this works. These partitions can get pulled down at any time and rearranged to form something new without any interference with the layout.
Challenges Facing Modular Architecture
While this type of design cuts the time and manual site expenses by half, there are various notable challenges. Here are the challenges:
- Safe Transportation of the Modules: Transportation cannot be overlooked since the modules get assembled off-site. If not handled with care when transporting them, there is a high probability of damage. Any mishap during this stage can bring extra repairs or replacements and even bring a project to a standstill. Hence, it’s up to the transporters to ensure that their load complies with road regulations for easy movements. As the units get mounted to form one unit, care should also get considered when operating the cranes. The modules are sensitive, and any rough handling can alter progress and fitting.
- Full Dependency on Limited Suppliers: While modular designs are gaining traction, few manufacturers deal with commercial projects. When a particular contractor takes on a project, they have to see it through to the end. Any misunderstandings occurring midway, even when the structure is up, can cause a standstill. For some reason, choosing to change to a new supplier also has its problems. This is because the modules are similar from start to finish, and the new supplier may fail to match the previous design. The failure leads to non-uniformity and unavoidable complications.
- A Difficult Approval Process: According to federal laws, commercial buildings must meet certain set standards. While modular architectural designs are rising, construction codes differ among states. While some owners view modular designs as a cheap way to erect commercial buildings, many factors are in play. The layout design must be well thought and approved to ensure every module falls into place. In huge projects, architects must consider safety to ensure no complications after completion. The site must get cleared before the project commences lengthening the approval process.
- High Pre-Construction Cost: Many times these modules get made within a small time frame. It’s up to the contractors to ensure they invest the money well to avoid complications. They have to ensure that the right materials get used and no misuse happens. If you have hired a contractor to run the project, you need to be hands-on to know the progress. You also have to have an expert team of architects and engineers in the field to ensure the project is a success. All this translates to high costs before and during construction.
Modular Design Approach
The need to use modular architecture design in today’s era is significant. The ability to replace or work on individual units in a commercial building will have its fair share of benefits.
This approach brings beauty to architecture since any upgrades can get done quickly. There are endless possibilities when it comes to dealing with modular architecture.
Dating from the 1600’s modular architecture has been a dominant architecture design. When chosen for a project, it brings endless possibilities.
However, it has various challenges that need crucial attention. You now know what modular design entails and the challenges posed.