Modular architecture with pool and cushions

Modular architecture with pool and cushions

Modular architecture on World Architecture Day

Modular architecture is celebrated today for the part it plays in designing a better world. Its furniture cousin is also popular because it's simple, versatile and saves space.

Four things you can do with a modular system

  1. Connect separate units together.
  2. Customise standard basic units.
  3. Add, take away or replace units without affecting the rest of the system.
  4. Reconfigure components. A desk, for example, can turn into a bar. An emergency dwelling can turn into a hospital. Shipping containers can turn into living and working space (see picture below).
Riverside Building, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, London. Modular live/work units built using old shipping containers.

Riverside Building, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, London
Modular live/work units built using old shipping containers
© Tarquin Binary - photographer Fin Fahey. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic licence

Modular architecture

Buildings can be put together quickly and easily from prefabricated units, often made of simple materials. They can be:

  • Basic - Kraaijvanger’s kitchen and bathroom unit can be put into an empty building to turn it into a home.
  • Customisable - Urban Splash and ShedKM invite residents to plan the layouts of new homes in Manchester.
  • Quick to erect - Fiction Factory’s cardboard components can be assembled into houses or offices in a day.
  • Good in a crisis - The Hex House (Architects for Society, Minnesota) can house victims of natural and other disasters. It comes as a flat pack of mostly steel-and-foam structural insulated panels. The hexagonal buildings can be arranged next to one another or can be joined and share walls for warmth. They can be combined with gardens, courtyards, drives and pathways.

Modular furniture

This probably first saw the light of day when Harvey Probber invented modular, sectional seating in the 1940s. This very simple concept has gone on to be applied elsewhere in the home and office.

Four great things

  1. A simple series of geometric shapes is straightforward and sleek.
  2. Units can be rearranged for different environments and needs.
  3. Furniture can often be stored in very small spaces.
  4. Standardised furniture units can be customised.

The modular rattan chairs and footstools in our garden furniture cube sets come in different colours. They store neatly and compactly under the table, and can then be protected with an outdoor cover.

You start seeing it everywhere

Once you start thinking about modular furniture and architecture, you start to see it everywhere!