Now that the effects of climate change are visible and indisputable, consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever. In fact, as a United Nations 2021 study suggests, 85% of them reveal that sustainability plays a key role when making their purchase decisions, motivating businesses and manufacturers to respond accordingly. This explains the rising demand for electric vehicles and products made of renewable or recyclable materials. However, architecture – and especially traditional housing – seems to be several steps behind compared to other industries. Although there are numerous efforts to move towards a greener built environment, the way most buildings are made today continues to be outdated, creating tremendous amounts of waste and significantly contributing to the global carbon footprint.
Modular: The Latest Architecture and News
Contemporary challenges and developments in technology inevitably trigger changes in the way we design and build our cities. SUMMARY, one of ArchDaily's Best New Practices of 2021, is a Portuguese architecture studio focused on the development of prefabricated and modular building systems. Striking a balance between pragmatism and experimentalism, the firm develops prefabricated solutions in order to respond to a driving challenge of contemporary architecture—to speed up and simplify the construction process. Founded in 2015 by the architect Samuel Gonçalves, a graduate of the School of Architecture of the University of Porto, the studio has presented at prominent events such as the 2016 Venice Biennale. We talked with Samuel about the firm's practical experience in prefabrication and modulation, as well as their experiments and forays into research.
One of the most famous series of numbers in history, the Fibonacci sequence was published by Leonardo of Pisa in 1202 in the "Liber Abaci", the "Book of Calculus". The famous sequence of numbers became known as the "secret code of nature" and can be seen in the natural world in several cases. But, after all, how does this sequence relate to architecture?
The first wooden housing modules of Juf Nienke, a new circular prefabricated timber housing project by SeARCH, RAU, and DS landscape architects, has been installed in Amsterdam. The project will feature 61 rental homes made entirely of wood, and will sit at the entrance of Centrumeiland, a newly raised piece of land on Lake IJmeer that features 1500 housing units. It is set to be one of the most sustainable apartment buildings in the Netherlands, incorporating an innovative cross-laminated timber construction and utilizing recycled materials.
It is difficult to find someone who never played LEGO as a child. What if, like LEGO's, we thought of buildings as great assembling games? U-Build is a modular wooden construction system developed by Studio Bark to be easy to build, pleasant to inhabit, and simple to deconstruct at the end of its useful life. The system removes many of the difficulties associated with traditional construction, enabling individuals and communities to build their own homes and buildings. The system uses precision CNC machining to create a kit of parts, allowing the structure of the building to be assembled by people with limited skills and experience, using only simple hand tools.
It is a common misconception that bunk beds - which are sleeping spaces elevated above floor-level - are used exclusively for the bedrooms of children and teens. While bunk beds are a great solution for younger kids and older kids alike, the practical aspect of bunk beds which gives ample sleeping space while saving on floor space, makes them great for a variety of purposes and applications. With a rise in density and the majority of people living in large urban centers making use of increasingly smaller living spaces, there has come a push towards modularity in interior architecture. For this reason, bunk beds and lofted sleeping areas have become a great solution to maximize square footage.
Luxembourg Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale Explores Alternative Modes of Living Amid the Housing Crisis
The Luxembourg Pavilion at the 17th Architecture Biennale reflects on how the pandemic has brought a series of dualities to the spotlight, challenging the understanding of the relationships established between architecture and land, interior and exterior, home and work or the built environment and nature. In light of these issues, the exhibition titled Homes for Luxembourg, designed by Sara Noel Costa de Araujo (Studio SNCDA) and featuring contributions to the architecture publication Accattone explores ideas of modular, reversible living while also illustrating a model of repurposing land to build new forms of togetherness.
The Case Study Houses (1945-1966), sponsored by the Arts & Architecture Magazine and immortalized by Julius Shulman’s iconic black-and-white photographs, may be some of the most famous examples of modern American architecture in history. Designed to address the postwar housing crisis with quick construction and inexpensive materials, while simultaneously embracing the tenets of modernist design and advanced contemporary technology, the Case Study Houses were molded by their central focus on materials and structural design. While each of the homes were designed by different architects for a range of clients, these shared aims unified the many case study homes around several core aesthetic and structural strategies: open plans, simple volumes, panoramic windows, steel frames, and more. Although some of the Case Study Houses’ materials and strategies would become outdated in the following decades, these unique products and features would come to define a historic era of architectural design in the United States.
Lego China has teamed up with CAA Architects to create a vision for a modular city in space. Designed by Liu Haowi, the city is made with a spacecraft below and a larger urban center above surrounded by an artificial gravitational field controlled by AI. Called "Crystal Space City", the project is constructed by modules and combines a city, oasis and an energy power system all together.
Buildings are static. They serve the purpose they have been designed for. But when cities grow and the needs of the community change, this becomes a problem. Modular construction with engineered wood products like Kerto LVL are the solution, because they enable adaptable, sustainable and cost competitive designs. It is time to provide solutions to the changing needs of our cities. Time to create an urban adaptation.
Global design practice Skidmore, Owings & Merrill have created a modular pop-up classroom in response to COVID-19. Called School/House, it was inspired by its traditional single-room namesake and responds to the key challenges of density, air circulation, and flexibility in schools. The rapidly deployable classroom system addresses social distancing, health, and safety during the pandemic while also provides learning space during renovations or rapid growth.
Despite all the news of re-openings, lifted restrictions, al fresco options dining, and a return to something more closely resembling “normal,” COVID-19 is still very much with us. And despite the defeatist/downplayed/nothing to see here stance embraced by the current presidential administration, the United States is still in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis. In some states, both new reported cases and hospitalizations have now reached record highs.
This being said, the need for accessible, easy to fabricate, and quick-to-deploy testing facility solutions are still in great need, particularly in dense urban areas, at large institutions and workplaces, and in underserved communities where coronavirus testing might come as a luxury, not a basic necessity. In terms of testing availability, all bases need to and must be covered.
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects have broken ground on a modular design for supportive housing in South Los Angeles. Dubbed Isla Intersections, the project is part of a triangular parcel of land next to the freeway being developed as LA’s first shared street. Designed with open public space and 54 homes for some of LA's most vulnerable residents, the project was made to explore the future of housing.
La Casa por el Tejado, a company specializing in the construction of old buildings, duplicated both the living spaces and the number of floors of an apartment building on Avenida Meridiana in the El Clot neighborhood of Barcelona. The new residences were built off-site in 12-weeks time and in accordance with the building's original dimensions and characteristics.