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What is Modular Design in Architecture?

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Modular design in architecture refers to the concept of designing buildings and structures using pre-fabricated, standardized components that can be easily assembled and disassembled. These modular components can be used to construct a wide variety of building types and sizes and can be customized to meet specific needs.

This approach to building construction has gained popularity in recent years due to its many potential advantages, and style. It has been picking up heat in the architecture field as well, where modular units are designed and fitted into buildings. 

What Is A Module?

Modules are flexible but standardized measurements for the construction of a system which makes construction faster and more efficient. Using modular dimensions in design helps in easy assembly and faster construction time.

How Modular Design Is Made?

The stages of modular design are as follows:

  1. The Design Stage
  2. Sent to Factories
  3. Transport to Site
  4. Assembly

1. The Design Stage

On the plan of the building, grids of the modules are made, upon which the components and furniture are placed.

Types Of Modules In A Drawing

a. Basic Module

A basic module is the unit length of a component in a modular drawing. It is usually depicted using the letter ‘M’.

  • The basic module will serve as the basis of all the measurements and dimensions that will be done in the building. 
  • This size ‘M’ is generally chosen based on what length will give maximum flexibility and efficiency for the design.

b. Submodule

A submodule is a fraction of the basic module. This is used to depict smaller components or elements of the design. 

  • Usually, submodules are ½ or ¼th of the value of M.
  • Lines of a multi-modular grid usually coincide with the basic modular grids.

c. Multi Module

Multi modules are multiples of the basic module. They are used to place components of the design which tend to be bigger than ones in the basic module.

  • Usually, multi modules are depicted as n x M, where n is mostly a whole number like 2, 3, 4……

2. Sent To Factories

These drawings are then sent to factories to be manufactured, with extreme precision. 

  • The measurements are entered into machines and made.
  • The components are made and cut to precision.
  • They are glued or nailed together if necessary.

Quality checks need to be done since they are manufactured in mass.

3. Transported To Site

These components are then transported to the site to be assembled.

4. Assembling

Since the components are pre-fabricated, they only need to be assembled correctly. This makes modular design safe and efficient. They don't involve any construction processes.

Advantages Of Modular Design

Habitat 67, Montreal, Canada by Safdie Architects
Habitat 67, Montreal, Canada by Safdie Architects

1. Efficient And Cheaper Construction

One of the main advantages of modular design is that it allows for faster construction times and lower costs. 

  • The components are pre-fabricated in a factory setting; they can be manufactured more efficiently and with greater precision than traditional on-site construction methods. 
  • Modular components can be easily transported to the building site, which can save time and money on labor and materials.

2. Flexibility In Terms Of Design

Another advantage of modular design is that it allows for greater flexibility in building design. 

  • The components can be easily assembled and disassembled, buildings can be easily expanded, remodeled, or repurposed over time. 
  • This can be especially useful for commercial and industrial buildings, which often need to adapt to changing business needs.

3. It Is A Sustainable Option

Modular design can also be more environmentally friendly than traditional construction methods.

  • The components are pre-fabricated in a factory setting, can be manufactured using sustainable materials and techniques, and can be easily disassembled and recycled at the end of their useful life. 
  • Modular buildings can be constructed more quickly which reduces the amount of energy and resources used during construction.
  • The components can be easily assembled and disassembled, buildings can be easily expanded, remodeled, or repurposed over time. 

Disadvantages Of Modular Design

Despite its many advantages, the modular design does have some limitations. 

1. Limited lifespan

  • Modular buildings generally have a shorter lifespan than traditional buildings. They are also not as durable as traditional buildings. 
  • This is because they are made of lightweight materials and are not as sturdy as traditional building materials.

2. Limited customization

  • Modular buildings are pre-fabricated and hence may not be able to be customized to the same extent as traditional buildings. 
  • This can be a disadvantage for customers looking for a unique design or specific features.

Modular design in architecture is a promising approach for sustainable and efficient building construction.

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