Design in Modular Construction: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Design in Modular Construction

1st Edition

By Mark Lawson, Ray Ogden, Chris Goodier

CRC Press

280 pages | 355 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780415554503
pub: 2014-02-24
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Modular construction can dramatically improve efficiency in construction, through factory production of pre-engineered building units and their delivery to the site either as entire buildings or as substantial elements. The required technology and application are developing rapidly, but design is still in its infancy. Good design requires a knowledge of modular production, installation and interface issues and also an understanding of the economics and client-related benefits which influence design decisions.

Looking at eight recent projects, along with background information, this guide gives you coverage of:

  • generic types of module and their application
  • vertical loading, stability and robustness
  • dimensional and spacial planning
  • hybrid construction
  • cladding, services and building physics
  • fire safety and thermal and acoustic performance
  • logistical aspects – such as transport, tolerances and safe installation.

A valuable guide for professionals and a thorough introduction for advanced students.


"The authors bring together expertise in modular design, light steel structural design and concrete structural design to create a comprehensive reference book for modular construction… With over 40 case studies… the authors demonstrate the perhaps surprising capacity for modular construction to be used to create diverse, flexible and adaptable designs that can respond sensitively to both site and function. Modular design and construction intensifies the normal relationship between architectural design, structural design, building physics, manufacturing processes, transportation requirements and installation strategies. Design in Modular Construction reflects this multidisciplinary design requirement by bringing together all these aspects in an accessible and holistic manner."

Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers

"… a key reference for anyone involved in the design of homes and buildings using modular construction and for undergraduate and post-graduate education."

Civil Engineering Journal, October 2015

"This should be reference reading for all students of sustainable construction. It demonstrates the benefits in terms of fewer deliveries to site, the speed of construction and the lower amounts of embodied energy in modular construction, all of which are increasingly important in today’s resource stressed world. …This book fills a gap in the literature by providing a comprehensive overview for students and those designers new to the idea of building with modules, and provides sufficient examples and case studies for designers to start using the technology immediately in their work. …I recommend this book to every university that teaches structural design and architecture as required reading for students, and I recommend it to every architects practice as an introduction to the technology."

––Rory Bergin, HTA Design LLP

"This book provides an exciting panorama of design in modular construction, with excellent elaborations of the technical, economic and sustainability aspects of a series of steel, concrete and timber modular systems. The provision of the wide-ranging case examples of building projects using modular construction makes the book an ideal source of information for both researchers and practitioners."

––Dr Wei Pan, the University of Hong Kong

"I think this book is vital for every graduate and master’s student studying Building or Civil Engineering as it covers all aspects of modular construction from historic data to state of the art techniques."

—Vasileios Vernikos, CH2M HILL

"The authors bring together expertise in modular design, light steel structural design and concrete structural design to create a comprehensive reference book for modular construction, which focuses primarily on the design of volumetric units."

—Rachel Cruise, Structures and Buildings

Table of Contents

Introduction to modular construction


Applications of modular construction

Benefits of modular construction

History of modular construction in the UK

Modular construction worldwide

Background studies

Functional requirements for modular buildings

Introduction to materials

Accreditation of modular systems


Types of steel modules

Basic forms of light steel modules

Four-sided modules

Corner-supported modules

Open-ended modules

Hybrid modular and panel systems

Hybrid modular, panel, and primary steel frame systems


Precast concrete modules

Benefits of precast concrete modules

Precast concrete building forms

Modular construction in concrete


Other types of modules

Timber-framed modules

Reuse of shipping containers

Bathroom pods

Special forms of modular construction

Modular units in renovation

Access cores

Introduction to planning of modular buildings

General principles

Corridor-type buildings

External access buildings

Open-plan modular buildings

High-rise modular buildings

Dimensions for planning of modular buildings

Structural zones

Open building approach


Housing and residential buildings

Space planning in housing

Building regulations (England and Wales)

House forms in modular construction

Residential buildings in modular construction

Student residences


Modular Layouts in Tall Buildings

Mixed modules and open-plan space


Hospitals and medical buildings

Features of modular medical facilities

Design requirements

Modules in hospital extensions

Dimensional requirements for medical buildings


Schools and educational buildings

Features of modular educational buildings

Dimensional requirements for schools

Other requirements for schools


Specialist buildings


Retails units and petrol stations

Military accommodation

Prisons and secure accommodation

Hybrid modular construction systems

Modular and panel systems

Examples of plan forms using hybrid construction

Details of connections between modules and floor cassettes

Podium support to modules

Integrated steel frames and modules

Example of mixed use of modules and structural frames in a residential building

Groups of modules supported by structural frames


Acoustic insulation in modular construction

Principles of acoustic insulation

Acoustic requirements and regulations

Separating walls

Separating floors


Structural design of light steel modules

Loading and load combinations

Forms of construction

Connection between modules

Stabilising systems

Effect of construction tolerances on stability

Design of structural elements

Structural integrity


Structural design of concrete modules

Design principles in modular precast concrete

Concrete properties

Codes and standards

Layout of modules

Detailed design

Cladding, roofing, and balconies in modular construction

Cladding types for light steel modules

Thermal performance

Thermal performance of light steel modular walls


Roofing systems

Building in renewable energy technologies in modular construction



Service interfaces in modular construction

Services in light steel modules

Services in concrete modules

Modular plant rooms

Modular cores


Constructional issues in modular systems

Foundation interfaces

Module tolerances and interfaces

Module-to-module connections

Modular stairs

Corridor supports

Construction issues for concrete modules

Transport of modules

Craneage and installation


Factory production of modules

Benefits of off-site manufacturing

Manufacture of light steel and timber modules

Automation in panel production

Field factories

Manufacture of precast concrete modules

Weather protection


Economics of modular construction

On-site construction versus off-site manufacture

Economics of production

Material costs and improved productivity

Proportion of on-site work in modular construction

Transport and installation costs

Economics of speed of construction

Savings in design fees

Summary of potential cost savings relative to on-site construction


Sustainability in modular construction

Benefits of off-site manufacture on sustainability

Code for sustainable homes (CFSH)

Background studies on sustainability

Embodied energy and embodied carbon calculations

Embodied carbon in transportation

Comparative embodied carbon study



About the Authors

Professor Mark Lawson is professor of construction systems at the University of Surrey, and consultant to the Steel Construction Institute (SCI). He is a chartered civil and structural engineer and member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). His BSc (Eng) is from Imperial College, and his PhD was obtained from the University of Sanford in the field of stressed skin design of steel-framed buildings. In 2011, he was awarded two prizes by the Institution of Civil Engineers for published papers, including the Howard Medal. He has been involved in many EU projects in the steel construction sector and has led major projects on sustainable design in steel and on modular construction systems.

Professor Ray Ogden has a degree in architecture and a PhD in mechanical engineering. He has been involved in construction-related research and teaching since 1986, including work related to light steel, off-site, and modular construction, building envelope design, and low-carbon solutions. He is currently a professor and associate dean of research and knowledge exchange in the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment at Oxford Brookes University, where he is also director of the Tata Centre for the Building Envelope. He has authored seven books and numerous technical papers and reports, and been responsible for a wide range of research and live demonstration projects.

Dr. Chris Goodier is a senior lecturer in the School of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University, having worked previously for BRE and Laing Civil Engineering. He is a chartered builder with 20 years’ experience in all aspects of construction, including research, contracting, and consultancy, and has published more than 130 papers, books, reports, and articles. He recently chaired the 2013 British Council’s International Conference on Sustainable Construction and leads a significant ongoing portfolio of government- and industry-funded research in the areas of concrete materials, off-site technology, sustainability, infrastructure, renewable energy, and construction futures.

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