A model for implementing product modularity in buildings design

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 2020, 27, (3), pp. 680-699
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© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the fundamental underpinnings of product modularity and how these can be adapted to construction and its specificities (e.g. one-off products delivered by temporary supply chains) to create a model to design modular buildings. Design/methodology/approach: This research adopts a design science research approach. Explanation I (substantive theory devising based on the analysis of an artefact ‒ a low-income housing project) is used, followed by Solution Incubation (a model to implement product modularity in buildings design). Findings: The model allows product modularity to be implemented at distinct levels (i.e. building, systems and components) at a single stage (building design), different from manufacturing where each level is considered at a distinct stage. This is in line with the project investigated: modularity was considered for house layouts, roof types and gable formats. Practical implications: The model provides a hands-on tool for practitioners to design modular buildings. The low-income project is also extensively detailed: three-dimensional models, floor plans and conceptual diagrams (outlining how fundamental underpinnings were applied at each level) are presented. There is a lack of comprehensive accounts such as the one presented here to demonstrate the application of product modularity in real-world projects. Originality/value: This paper identifies and adapts the fundamental underpinnings of product modularity to construction, and it details how these were applied to a low-income housing design at distinct levels. Based on these two endeavours, a model to implement product modularity in buildings design is proposed.
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