Modularity as a design principle

Using modularity in construction to drive operational excellence

Jana Lakshman

March 24, 2023
min read

I have huge respect for Airbnb because,

  1. I truly believe Brian Chesky, the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb is the one who takes customer experience as seriously as Steve Jobs did and Steve Jobs is my role model.
  2. Their principles like, being nimble, doing more than people expect, taking risks and pivoting to where they think the world is going are life changing when followed religiously

So, when I was learning to design the website of one of my startup ideas, I was eager to imitate Airbnb’s design processes.

Going through their blog, I got exposed to this idea of setting up a design system with standardised components that will be used by their design team to craft the customer experience.

The design system was required to

  1. To give boundaries to creativity
    Creativity oozes out when there are restraints. Design system draws the boundary within which creative minds can prosper.
  2. Uniformity
    When an organization follows a system religiously, uniformity across all multitudes of channels are maintained.

With this new found knoweldge on creating systems, I went on to create components for my website starting from typography to buttons to card elements on figma(UI design software). I was even more excited when I realised that React Native follows the same principle.

Using the concept of Modularity, the effort and the time required to design and build my app and website reduced significantly. So significantly that I fell in love.

Modularity in construction

And this is what we at Modulus Housing are trying to do.

We are trying to build a library of modular systems that can be used to build any building at any location in less than 30 days. This library of modules will be designed with the below mentioned criterions:

  1. Indistinguishable from conventional construction
  2. Freedom to design & build various layouts
  3. Operational efficiency should be high
  4. Environmentally sustainable
  5. Value for money

Let me narrate you a story to show what’s possible with such a system.

This is the year 2025. You want to build a farmhouse. You decide to see what we can do for you. We invite you to our experience center, Mod Space. At the center, there’s a VR stall your designated architect booked in advance. After a brief chat, your architect helps you wear a VR headset, and you’re transported to your farmland.

The architect starts building your farmhouse using our modular systems. She uses our 8ft by 4ft wall and our 20ft by 10ft foldable box to design a version of your farmhouse in a couple of minutes. As and when the architect adds a module, a cost estimate is shown at the top right. You aren’t really happy and give your inputs which our architect readily accepts and gets on with redesigning your home.

Once the structure of the farmhouse has been finalised, you go about choosing the,

  1. Colour of the building
  2. Electrical and plumbing appliances you want
  3. Decoratives to be used in your house
  4. Mural artist to do a personalised mural

After many iterations, the two of you have struck gold. Both of you are extremely happy with the design and you, as a customer are happy about the transparency pricing. You sign the contract and pay the token advance. We do a short site survey, and 30 days after, Tadaa!!, your farmhouse is ready at your location, ready to be used.

All is well for the next couple of years. Your farmhouse has become your silent retreat and your family just loves spending time there. But you’re thinking it would have been better if you had built a 3 storey farmhouse instead of a 2 storey one. You get curious and contact our services to ask if we can do something about it.

We take a look at your proposal and readily agree. Since we specialize in building low-rise buildings, all our modules are built for building a 4 storey building. We invite you back to our experience centre and this time when you wear the VR headset, you are transported to your farmhouse. Our architect helps you design the third storey and once you’re happy, your building extension is delivered and set up in 30 days!!

We understand how emotional building a home can be. Building a home for most of us is a thing we do once in a life, if we are lucky 2 or 3 times. Usually people spend close to a decade of their savings to build buildings and homes. We would be honoured if people decide to trust us with the opportunity of building their home.

Since we understand how special a building is, we are trying all we can to truly create an insanely great experience for you and we truly believe modularity as a design principle will help us justify the trust people have on us.

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