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1 October 2014
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14 October 2014

The Future of Modular Buildings

Technological innovation, social change and upward mobility: our world is changing faster than ever. Sadly much of this acceleration has been based on the ‘take, make & waste’ model: building fast at the cost of our environment, however a movement is in the making to end this resource wastage, shifting to a more regenerative economic model. When a responsible, renewable model becomes the norm, where will this leave the property and construction industry?

On first look it isn’t good: 20% of all resource inputs end up as waste and many builds neither factor in material re-use nor design for deconstruction. You could say that this traditional ‘take, make & waste’ model is already outdated. Here are some solutions for what an economic property construction and investment could look like.

Commercial Property

Smart phones, video conferencing and cloud technology mean more workers are working on the move. Is this the means to an end for large centralised facilities? Will nimble and flexible companies emerge and overtake huge industry stalwarts who are too stuck in their ways to react? If commercial property facilities evolve from hot-desking into mobile working, could portable and reusable office buildings pop up (and down) around our towns and cities as workloads dictate?

Pioneering examples of portable property assets are already out there: Snoozebox hotels and the basketball stadium from the London Olympics are both examples of portable modular solutions for event specific deployments. These business models have started a design re-think and a shift away from ‘take, make & waste’ to a more regenerative use of resources.

Residential Property

Could residential property ownership models evolve such that instead of moving from house to house people simply move their homes? It is not such an outlandish thought – shipping container architecture is producing a host of portable and re-locatable buildings than can be transported at low cost using internationally standardised equipment.

What could such a building look like? Perhaps a portable central living core of a living space, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, to which further items such as additional bedrooms, a garage, an office, a gym or studio could be added and rented for a certain period just until you need them. Residents would pay for the services they use with the ownership of the building remaining with the house builder who has the incentive to ensure flexibility, portability, material recovery and re-use.

For both commercial and residential properties, modular buildings can provide innovative solutions for new problems. It’s an ever-changing space to be working in and we’re looking forward to changing with the times and providing modular solutions. Let us know your thoughts on this topic:

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