The foundation in which Inplex was established as a custom-build company has everything to do with modular home design. In fact, Inplex is the brainchild of award-winning architect Warren Liu and engineering expert Ng Soon Guan, both of whom have extensive experience in modular home design.
With that said, there is much more to that story and it begins with Warren’s founding role in A D Lab, an award-winning architectural and design firm he set up alongside his partner Darlene Smyth who comes from a long family line of architects.
Through a partnership with light-gauge-steel manufacturer Lightrus, A D Lab embarked on a groundbreaking project based on modular home design – The Monomer House – which would later alter the course of the company forever.
Learn more about The Monomer House 1 project below.
All about The Monomer House 1
What is The Monomer House project all about?
Initiated by the architects by A D Lab, The Monomer House is a collaborative project involving 20 like-minded individuals of various disciplines within the construction industry. They shared a common vision of wanting to seek a leaner and more sustainable solution for building design and construction, thus the project came about.
Self-organised and self-funded, The Monomer House project was leveraged to test the feasibility of the use of lightweight, pre-fabricated, prefinished, and lean modular construction that can be customised and erected speedily as a foundational base for limitless building types, forms, and sizes.
The main goal of the project was to advance the industry towards adopting the Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) engineering methodology within the design and construction process, as well as to make the DfMA processes and capabilities more accessible for small- to medium-scale projects.
Design brief and interpretation
The end result, aptly named The Monomer House, is a 2-storey micro dwelling comprising 2 prefabricated, prefinished modules measuring 2.6m x 5.2m each. These modules were stacked in an L-configuration to maximise usable floor space.
These modules were constructed using light gauge steel and lightweight finishing materials, like aluminium, boards, wood, and PVC, to keep the overall weight of the modules under 2.5 tons each in order to keep them transportable and deployable.
The Monomer House also features a vertical landscape, smart furniture systems, and photovoltaic cells to make the dwelling unit environmentally friendly and self-sufficient. The entire structure was assembled together using the dry construction method, without any welding and wet-works on or off site.
For those reasons, The Monomer House, along with other similar modular homes, are able to be quickly erected across a wide range of site conditions, from the city centre to highly isolated areas, such as in the middle of a rainforest or on a deserted island.
Within The Monomer House, the living room, kitchen, deck and green wall were housed downstairs, whereas the bedroom, bathroom, balcony, and vertical garden were placed on the upper level. The entire assembly of the structure took around five days to complete.
Progressive design approach
Through The Monomer House project, A D Lab was able to pioneer what the firm believes to be the one of the most sustainable forms of design and construction out there. It also went on to win the prestigious German Design Award in 2020 in 2 categories (Excellent Architecture and Architecture) in recognition of its unorthodox design achievements.
When the development of The Monomer House is compared to the standard practice of top-down development where buildings are constructed at one go, the latter is found to be potentially more wasteful as developers are often required to complete the entire development without testing the market demand beforehand.
Furthermore, this type of construction lacks flexibility and the owners are not given much freedom or say in the way the building is constructed, the materials used, how their floor space is used, and the overall look of their building.
Learnings from The Monomer House
Through the project, the experts at A D Lab found that the modular home design, which involves modules that are akin to life-sized LEGO blocks that are put together, allows for a design-responsive and build-on-demand approach.
It revolutionises the modular based assembly system, and the use of prefabricated, lightweight units to assemble a project in incremental stages allows for development flexibility. This means that it is highly customisable and can easily be adapted for varying conditions.
Additionally, the factory-controlled setting of the manufacturing of these light gauge steel modular components effectively increases the quality of the construction and at the same time, reduces cost through the reduction of waste and resources.
Modular home design as the way forward
The Monomer House explores a design process that is based on an aggregated modular assembly, which is responsive and customisable. It can also be defined as a top-down meets bottom-up design approach, whereby architects are able to design with a collective assemblage in mind.
On top of that, this design process allows for more engagement between the end user, the designer, and manufacturers. When dealing with a modular home design construction similar to that of The Monomer House, there is a dynamic and ongoing collaboration that occurs, which allows for modifications and refinements throughout the project. This progressive approach to design advances the democratisation of architecture.
Ready to begin on your journey in building a custom home with Inplex, particularly through a modular home design? Take a look at the home designs on our website to discover the many possibilities you can explore.