• Lee Sheller

Architecture Components

Much of built contemporary architecture consists of some quantity of prefabricated construction materials. Studs, metal or wood, are prefabricated. Windows and doors are factory made. Flooring and other finishes are dimensionally consistent. We don’t see many log cabins these days. Standardization makes construction faster and more efficient. We understand components in terms of dimensions and material qualities. The industry develops skill sets and a labor pool around them, making them easy to work with locally.

More recently, components have extended to much larger parts of buildings. Shipping containers and prefabricated modules are leading the way, but we are seeing other developments in architectural typology that can be systematized. At Baran Studio we have been exploring all of these components, from the MacArthur Annex shipping container projects, to our modular micro-housing project in downtown Oakland.

We are also thinking in terms of components for both our ADU work, and some of our co-housing projects. In Co-housing, a systematically expandable design module prototype has led us to rapidly deployable solutions. While quickly designed and built architecture, the arrangement of these components can still adapt to functional and site characteristics. The end result is one critical part of a solution to the housing crisis.

With recent changes in ADU law in the state being interpreted by all local municipalities, we have developed a scale-able design response that can adapt as interpretations of the law are being adjusted. Bedrooms can be added or subtracted in vertical and horizontal dimensions to increase square footage in response to complex regulations over various constraints.

As with the use of any component, the result is tempered by the method of deployment. We use the base modules as the mass of the building, moving them around the site to best fit the conditions, allowing for maximum open space, light and air, while still maximizing density. The skin that is applied to the mass may remain consistent, to connote identity, or be varied with site applied materials. The combination of repeatable modules with flexible, adaptable, and creative design efforts yields a result that capitalizes on the best of both repeatable and unique design strategies. More to come.

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