Modular prefabricated

Building with modular and prefabricated elements tends to be quick and inexpensive, and can lead to record-setting planning and construction times. Modular construction becomes even more important in times of crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, when there is high, immediate demand for new functional space. Carlo Ratti and Italo Rota recently designed an interconnecting modular unit to complement existing hospital infrastructure in order to treat coronavirus patients. Each of the converted shipping containers accommodates two intensive care beds and reduces the risk of infection through a biocontainment ­system with negative pressure. Called Cura (Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments), this open-source project was first implemented in Turin. The autonomous plug-in intensive care units claim to be as fast to set up as a hospital tent.

This June issue examines the potential of modular construction and prefabrication. “The planning process is different from conventional construction… the planning and construction processes are intertwined,” explains Barbara Holzer in an interview. Holzer Kobler Architekturen have significant experience with prefab construction and containers; they explore the limits of these building methods with every project. A recent project by Far frohn&rojas in Berlin shows how precast concrete elements can be used to create an exemplary, multifaceted residential building with wide spans and flexible floor plans. For their student village in Wiltshire, England, WilkinsonEyre had fully equipped and furnished timber housing units positioned on site by crane. And in London, Doone Silver Kerr stacked recycled shipping containers to create a hotel with a striking facade.

Construction methods aside, architectural offices have ­dramatically changed how they work since the lockdown. Digital processes and virtual encounters are omnipresent. Social interaction has moved to the internet with its unfathomable resources. We can continue to apply many of the experiences we are ­making in these months. The pandemic is teaching us, not only in the office, but also at universities and publications, how to use new tools and restructure procedures, and in doing so to fall back on previously untapped possibilities. On our online platform detail.de we are collecting impressions of the current situation. We invite you to share your everyday observations with us.

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