A modular building needs to be designed as such from the very beginning of the architectural process in order to take advantage of the many benefits (see our previous article) and to prevent any nasty surprises.
Let’s delve into the Yelo knowledge bank to see what it takes to make a successful modular project and take a look at one of own our designs for modular housing.
Preparing for modular
Designing with modular in mind from the get-go is essential as there are factors that can cause problems down the line without careful planning. Here are some of the key points that need to be factored in when considering a modular build:
- Briefing clients - it is essential that clients are completely on board with going modular. We take ours to visit the factory and ensure any common misconceptions such as “will the floors be bouncy?” are dealt with. This gives them a better understanding of the process and confidence moving forward, preventing any confusion over what might be a foreign process for them.
- Transportation - as modules arrive on a lorry they are required to be within a certain size in order to be transportable. At Yelo we keep modules within 3.5m wide, 3.9m high and 10-12m in length; at these dimensions standard lorries can be used and there is less of a need for lorries to have escorts.
- Access - all modules will have to be craned onto site - if getting a crane on site is not feasible then neither is modular!
- Road closures - craning modules on to site may well require certain roads to be closed or blocked temporarily. Some roads are on key access routes for hospitals etc so this must be established early and all the necessary permissions gained.
If modular does not seem to be the ideal solution based on the above then an alternative Modern Method of Construction may be better suited for you - stay tuned for our upcoming articles on MMC!
Making a successful modular build
- Aesthetics - all too often modular schemes are purely function-focused and neglect aesthetics. To successfully create a beautiful modular building it is important to establish the module grid, even before the building internal layout is designed. Knowing where the joints are located ensures that the aesthetics and design can respond accordingly.
- Joints - as mentioned above knowing where the joints (or zips as they are often called) will go ensures that windows and doors are located logically and means that the joint itself can be incorporated as a feature. For example, it is possible to have a fully brick modular facade, but at joints it will sometimes be difficult to maintain a standard brick coursing, especially on larger builds. Therefore it is often a better option to create aesthetic feature such as a contrast panel to cover the joint.
- Reducing on site work - it is possible for modules to be delivered to site almost completely finished internally. However this requires careful design and coordination - for example at Yelo Architects we always design bathrooms and kitchens to be located fully inside a module and away from any joints. Otherwise splitting those rooms across two modules would be a nightmare to coordinate in terms of services and tiling. Careful planning for where services are located is also necessary.
- Coordination - good coordination is a must as modular construction has very little scope for change after the design process and especially once modules are complete, unlike with traditional construction where changes can be made while on site. Additionally construction is often split between two contractors with one preparing the structure to support the modules and one preparing the actual modules. With our modular builds we use Revit as our main CAD package and work with consultants that also have that capability to ensure smooth coordination.
- The Team - as modular builds require extreme accuracy and discipline the quality of the team and client and their awareness of this is key. It is extremely beneficial if all consultants in the team are experienced in modular builds.
Modular by Yelo Architects
At Yelo we have developed a configurable modular scheme designed to replace domestic garages with tailored housing. By replacing 3 small domestic garages these homes can be configured to provide 2 or 3 bedrooms, with options for open plan living or separated lounge/ kitchen, and different balconies solutions depending on the site orientation and client preference.
Materials can also be site specific or even homeowner selected to provide a variety throughout a whole development. The house design works with all materials and can be brick, render, timber, or metal paneled, amongst others.