A Case Study Approach to Identifying the Constraints and Barriers to Design Innovation for Modular Construction

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Virginia Tech


It is important for an architect to understand the limiting factors that will affect the design of a modular building. The implementation of modular construction as a means of improving production efficiency and worker safety in the construction industry raises into question the design quality of modular buildings, and whether or not the merits of the building process can also be captured from the perspective of the architect. For this reason, the constraints and barriers to design innovation in modular construction are recorded through the lens of an architect.

This study uses interviews with modular manufacturers to extract information on the topic of innovation in the industry. Featuring a case study project as the platform for discussion, the opinions of experienced building professionals were sought to identify what is and what isn't possible. Among the primary constraints and barriers to innovation, including manufacturing costs, dimensional requirements based on transportation method, and the inflexibility of CAM software, the results of the study identified a need for architects to become better educated about modular construction in general. Therefore, the information presented is meant to be a teaching tool geared towards architects.



modularization, industrialization, prefabrication