Cheap. Quick. Easy. That’s how modular architecture is.
Taking a module, often prefabricated, as a base piece, it repeatedly places it until creating a fully developed design, offering a quick answer of low prices to the user’s needs.
It is precisely because of its rushed feature, its ephemeral character, that it originally suited eastern architecture best. But, today, its efficiency has made it popular all around the world.
Here are 10 examples of modular architecture around the world.
1. Nakagin Capsule Tower | Modular architecture
When thinking of “modular”, this will probably be the first project that comes to our minds. It is a classic, it is iconic, and it reflects the best of Japanese society when applied to this type of living: reduction of the living space to a minimum and stacking the pieces, thus creating such a unique building.
2. My Micro NY
Even though this type of construction was initially popular among the cultures of the east, its influence has spread overseas and this “micro” living style can now be found even (or precisely) in the overcrowded city of NY.
My Micro NY applies the minimal housing space to a building whose location within the Little Tokyo area reveals its inspiration source.
3. Wuhan Hospital
One of the main reasons behind the expansion of modular architecture has been the efficiency and quickness it offers, which is the perfect solution to natural disasters that require a fast but organized response.
This year’s events are no different from other shows of nature’s rage, as the quick expansion of Covid-19 created an urge for a hospital in Wuhan.
The city’s solution was to build a modular hospital out of containers held together through a light steel structure, accelerating the process and allowing the hospital to be built in only 10 days.
Away from disease, but not from human risk, eviction is a great risk to underdeveloped societies.
In Delhi, farming families are often at risk of losing their lands due to legal action, so this project makes the most of the easy assembly and lightness of materials of modular construction, made out of local material and techniques in this case, in order to relocate the school quickly into a safer place if the settlement was to be demolished by the authorities.
5. Makoko Floating School | Modular architecture
In the same line of uncontrollable events, flooding is still a danger to many communities where complex and expensive water-control solutions are not an option.
In the 2016 Biennale, we could see the proposal of a light triangle-based floating structure that was meant to be used as a school: a floating structure that could never be flooded.
Today, and due to the flexibility of its growth, this solution could be a whole new way of urbanizing certain areas.
6. Nest Toolkit
But we don’t need to go far away or step into a land susceptible to natural disasters to find a social purpose for modular architecture.
Homelessness is all around, and affordable housing can easily be achieved through this type of construction. In LA, Brooks+Scarpa studio has proposed a model of cheap prefabricated living units that can easily be arranged into different displays, according to the users’ needs.
7. Charles De Gaulle Terminal 2E
In a public building that never ceases to grow, modularity can bring in all the flexibility needed to carry on with the development of Charles de Gaulle International Airport, in Paris.
The latest terminal is built out of modules. However, instead of being traditional cubic ones, the arched pieces allow for the curved aesthetics to be maintained while remaining open to future additions.
8. The Farmhouse
Besides social and growth issues, modular architecture can address the experimental side of architecture and constructions.
When a module is structurally stable on its own, the assembly of many of them together can bring in new possibilities that may have seemed unfeasible otherwise.
That is the case of The Farmhouse, where the efficiency of modulation is put together with the resistance of triangulation.
9. Tetris Apartments
In Slovenia, the same principles were applied to a collective of 650 social apartments.
Conceived as social housing, the development of the project was a great success and finished a year before the planned date, which implied an even bigger reduction in the cost and contributed to the low pricing of the spaces.
10. Alibaba Offices | Modular architecture
It is for all these reasons that the popularity of modular architecture has reached even the most popular firms. Many studios have already opted for this type of solution, and Foster+Partners is one of the latest examples of this success.
The British firm has just won the competition to build the new offices for Alibaba in Shanghai, with a modular proposal that comes back to the eastern countries where it was born, directly from one of the most influential western cities.