September, 2010

Sep 10

Modular Design and Sustainability

Lately I’ve been doing some research on modular design and sustainability. There are various approaches and various interpretations of this topic. I’m not an expert in this domain, I’m only exploring this fascinating world like a newborn, learning and creating my own perception that I want to share with you. In a world of limited ressources sustainability will have to be implemented on large scale so that the human species can survive.

Sustainability is achieved through long-lasting and environmental friendly products, as Dieter Rams suggested in his famous “ten principles of good design”. In order to get to this level you have to design products that can be easily change in time, that can be adapted to new needs, that use as much as possible durable and environmental friendly materials. Products that can be adapted easily to new needs without much expenses and resources are, of course, not very friendly with our consumer market. Although some companies do take this concept into practice. The majority of them come from the IT area, where software / firmware updates are a usual thing. But what about other products, larger products, like for example an apartment or a home.

Modular Apartment

Here comes modularity into play. To be modular means to be independent from other parts. The elements of design are split up and assigned to modules according to an architecture or plan. Using this kind of thinking can be very useful for the constant evolution. Of course, the theory of modularity is more complex. To understand this concept better I will present you Mr. Gary Chang.


On a larger scale, this concept was used by Lumenhaus in the design of their concept house that emphasizes integrity and endurance through the choice of materials and components that are based on the essential requirements of environmental conservation and energy use and as well as the longevity of each product.

Overview of the Lumenhouse

The house is entirely modular, so the user has the option to add or remove rooms and entire floors. The absolute fascinating thing about this house is that it produces more energy that it uses. More about the Lumenhouse here. (flash required)