Reimagining the way we build

Modular construction as a sustainable and efficient alternative to conventional building methods

Architecture constantly evolves with the demands of the changing world. Today's fast-paced world requires design interventions that guarantee speed, quality and cost control. The built environment needs thinking beyond the needs of the present, of thinking about what it means to build, and it requires an architecture that is conscious of its impact on the local environment.

It is in this context that prefabrication presents itself as a viable means of building. A kit-of-parts approach to construction, it translates into a process in which building components are manufactured in an off-site location (a factory or workshop) and transported to the construction site for assembly. A time efficient, precise technique that causes minimal waste on site, it presents a cost-efficient alternative to conventional construction. <rt-red>This modular practice ensures a high degree of localization and flexibility, fitting into the most unconventional site and delivering maximum value to a building's users.<rt-red>

At the studio, our work is a perpetual preoccupation with the idea of frugal innovation and doing more with less. Prefabrication allows us, as designers, the possibility to experiment with new ways of building which, while efficient and timely, tread lightly on the site, reducing the overall environmental impact. <rt-red> At the Villa in the Woods, for instance, we devised a lightweight structural system of concrete piles and tie beams, with drywall sections forming the skin of the building. <rt-red> This approach ensured there was minimal pollution on site.

Similarly, in our design for Stacked Courtyard House in Delhi, we experimented with a hybrid structural system to create an airy, day-lit space on a compact site. The modular grid allowed us to create open spaces and create seamless sightlines, making this home a frugal yet finely crafted expression of its materials.

Prefabrication also provides India with the rare advantage of developing a system that engages with our vast, largely untapped repository of artisanal skillsets. <rt-red> Marrying the industrial with a "crafted" approach not only contextualises the design but also provides artisans with new opportunities for improvisation. <rt-red>

In our design for the Mehrangarh Fort Visitor Centre, we devised a low-impact architectural system of a modular metal-and-stone kit of parts in collaboration with local artisans that offered ease of assembly and disassembly while also minimising heavy construction on the sensitive premises. <rt-red> The modular structures stand indiscernible against the towering fort, with the jaalis developed by the artisans providing a contextual link to the culture and history of the site. <rt-red>

Prefabrication offers the built environment possibilities of construction that are conscious of the environment at large, looking beyond mere development. They offer a viable future to the construction industry that is sensitive, efficient and flexible.

Attached Projects