Modular for Architects
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Manufactured, modular architecture is at the forefront of modern design—with factory-built components, buildings are becoming more cost-efficient, transportable, and consistent. Often designed for profit or ease of construction, manufactured homes have historically compromised character to become more cost-effective, energy efficient, or fashionable. They are designed by spreadsheets and market research of developers, marketers, and engineers, not the sketchbooks or dreams of architects. Architects, taught to design with theory, passion and poetry, prefer to design traditional homes because historically it has proved difficult to implement a modular construction strategy while maintaining authorship of design. Each client and context are unique, and architects perceive modular construction as a betrayal of that truth, forcing homes into three or four product lines with no contextual adaptation. With new technology, proper planning, and business plan integration, however, modular architecture can now introduce far more variety with negligible impact on cost or production efficiency. This paper presents an overview of modular home construction and tools for the architect to exploit its efficiency without compromising on uniquely designed outcomes or profitability. It then shapes a design and business question of whether modular construction is the best solution for a test project of holiday rentals in Fredericksburg, Texas—explored through a business plan and preliminary design schematic.