A trio of engineers and architects from MIT and Georgia Tech have created a startup company, WoHo, that aims to shift the paradigm of the built environment by adding design flexibility to components of modular buildings. The company has partnered with LafargeHolcim and is looking to improve upon traditional reinforced cement.
Buildings are the bedrock of civilization — places to live, places to work (well, normally, in a non-COVID-19 world) and places to play. Yet how we conceive buildings, architect them for their uses and ultimately construct them on a site has changed remarkably little over the past few decades.
Housing and building costs continue to rise, and there remains a slow linear process from conception to construction for most projects. Why can’t the whole process be more flexible and faster?
Well, a trio of engineers and architects out of MIT and Georgia Tech are exploring that exact question.
MIT’s former treasurer Israel Ruiz along with architects Anton Garcia-Abril of MIT and Debora Mesa of Georgia Tech have joined together on a startup called WoHo (short for “World Home”) that’s trying to rethink how to construct a modern building by creating more flexible “components” that can be connected together to create a structure.
By creating components that are usable in a wide variety of types of buildings and making them easy to construct in a factory, the goal of WoHo is to lower construction costs, maximize flexibility for architects and deliver compelling spaces for end users, all while making projects greener in a climate unfriendly world.
A modular building is a prefabricated building that consists of repeated sections called modules. Modularity involves constructing sections away from the building site, then delivering them to the intended site. Installation of the prefabricated sections is completed on site.
Prefabricated sections are sometimes placed using a crane. The modules can be placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked, allowing for a variety of configurations and styles. After placement, the modules are joined together using inter-module connections, also known as inter-connections. The inter-connections tie the individual modules together to form the overall building structure.