The Timeless Way: The Threat of Modularity


The details of a building cannot be made alive when they are made from modular parts - The Timeless Way of Building pg460

Let's assume this is unequivocally true. If this is the threat of modern building systems, how can we mitigate it?

Made for Masses Construction

From traditional construction to modular homes, the amount of control you maintain as a home owner remain low. This conflicts with my current hypothesis that "people should have as much agency over their lives as they desire."

Just in Time Construction

Timber frame and stick framing systems are created on-site just in time of the construction of the building. But even these systems, in the hands of large return on investment builders, use commoditized (modular) pieces like 4'x8' sheets of drywall.

Whats the most common wall height in America? Yup, 8'. Was that the height a home owner would have chosen for their home on that site?

So building with "traditional" system doesn't necessarily free you from death by modularity.

Wikihouse

WikiHouse is a digitally-manufactured building system. It aims to make it simple for anyone to design, manufacture and assemble beautiful, high-performance homes that are customised to their needs.

Could Wikihouse provide a mitigation from the threat of modular parts strangling the life out of a building?

The Wikihouse system could provide people the ability to design their house in a system of tools as easy to use as Instagram or Tiktok. And while there is a definite modularity to the Wikihouse system, each house and each piece is printed on demand for the project.

Do you want 8' ceilings in one room and 10' in another? Click and drag, done.

There are limitations to the level of customization. Will you reach the charm of a brick home where each and every brick has its own character? Likely not.

Perhaps this is acceptable tradeoff on quality for economy. I hope Wikihouse will increase the charm of buildings by letting people design each according to their style and needs while maintaining a certain level of economy.

Such has always been the dream to scale down manufacturing into the neighborhood of the person desiring the artifact. Can Wikihouse get us closer to that dream?

Future Work

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