Nothing new under the sun...Smart construction technologies are tried and tested
New discoveries can turn out to be old inventions, because there’s nothing new under the sun: when the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta wound up in Cordoba, Southern Spain, he marvelled at the quality of its public street lighting (“night had become day”…), and well he might wonder, because he had arrived in 1350 at a time when your average Londoner was still venturing out in the night with a flaming torch, dripping hot pitch. Indeed London didn’t have serviceable public lighting until 1807. And in the ninth century, Arabic scholars had laid the foundations for modern chemistry (Al-chemy) and mathematics (Al-gebra), only for them to be largely lost before being “rediscovered” and exported to Northern Europe three hundred years later: which is why your tax inspector can now check the figures on your return without taking his (or her) shoes and socks off. What we think of as cutting edge technologies so often have their roots deep in the past…and that applies to Modular Construction as well.
Take Samuel Payne for example…he spent his days fishing the waters off Nantucket Island in 1680, but like a lot of folk moving into a new area (he came from London, where the lights were still out), Mr Payne felt local housing conditions left a lot to be desired, so he boxed up the components of house from England, had it shipped over and put it together himself. Modular Construction was born…and it grew like topsy.
By the nineteenth century, with America rapidly expanding westwards in search of gold (amongst other things), more than five hundred pre-assembled homes were built in factories in New York and shipped across to California: creating the ready-made mining towns that still attract tourists in their droves. And of course, as we’ve had cause to note on this site before, England’s colonial entrepreneurs were also making a healthy business out of churches, schools and clubhouses: neatly packed into crates, and shipped to your local railhead…all you needed was a hammer, some nails, a plot of land and the patience to work through a three hundred page assembly manual.
By the time the new century had dawned, the EF Hodgson Company (in America…where else) was selling hundreds of thousands of modular homes to the continent’s burgeoning population: a market rapidly cornered by Sears Roebuck, which went on to greater things before being brought to its knees by COVID. But the real clue to progress lay in what EF Hodgson had spotted forty years earlier: a pressing need for quality, affordable homes, capable of being built quickly to meet the needs of an expanding demographic. And that need became still more pressing as the century wore on, with US soldiers returning from abroad and expecting to find homes fit for heroes to live in: modular construction fitted the bill to a tee.
So fast forward to today’s growing homelessness crisis, a crisis that’s spreading across the globe (www.shelter.org.uk), and you’ll find those same tried and tested technologies are needed more than ever before. After all, there’s nothing new under the sun…well, maybe something.
Something New Under the Sun
Modular homes are now much more environmentally friendly than ever, with a smaller carbon footprint and a unique capacity to fit in with the demands of the circular economy: when the building reaches the end of its useful life, components can be recycled and reused and cutting edge technologies mean the core cost platform is 66% less expensive too (www.aprao.com). That was something the EF Hodgson Company could only dream of.
Whether, of course, Samuel Payne would have approved of a McDonald's outlet being built (using modular technologies) in a record thirteen hours is quite a different matter: I doubt he’d even recognise a Big Mac, although the Filet “o” Fish could well be more up his street in Nantucket…
We constantly invent and reinvent our world: drawing on tried and tested technologies that are uniquely suited to addressing the needs of a fast changing planet. That’s why Modular Construction is not only effective, but also reliable. It worked in the past and it’s working again today…
Modulex Modular Buildings Plc (www.modulexglobal.com) is currently building the World’s largest Steel Modular Building Factory. It was established by Red Ribbon (www.redribbon.co) to harness the full potential of fast evolving technologies and deliver at pace to meet housing needs within global communities.