Modular Architecture: Strategy, Technology + Design

Building Science + Technology

Fall 2012

David Wallance, instructor

This course combined seminars and studio work. The first four weeks consisted of lectures and class discussion and also included presentations of case studies researched by the students.  During the last eight weeks, each class consisted of three hours of studio critiques focused on a design problem in which the students developed a modular approach to mid-rise housing.

The lectures surveyed the history of modular architecture and analyzed historic successes and failures.  In addition to an examination of design strategies and construction methods, the class covered related topics, including transportation, process engineering, industrial supply chain concepts, site logistics, scheduling and costs. Students drew distinctions between pre-fabrication, modular construction and manufacturing. The class also assessed the comparative advantages of the two primary modular strategies—volumetric and flat pack. Students delved into questions of cultural acceptance and the stigma commonly associated with “modular.”  The organization and politics of construction trade unions and their impact on modular adoption were considered.  The course surveyed the field of contemporary modular architecture and formed a conceptual framework within which to categorize various approaches. The method was inter-disciplinary, and students learned to think in terms of business strategy, financing, marketing and sales, as well as the more familiar terrain of design and building technology.

Chou Colangelo A/C
Maier Rodriquez B
Yang Park Diede D/E