Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday November 23, 2022
Humanizing The Way Cities Are Built
Remember when you rented or bought your first apartment? Maybe it was a small studio, or perhaps you roomed with a few friends. The location mattered—maybe being close to nightlife was mandatory. As time went on, your need for nightlife dimmed in favour of a bigger apartment for the family in the suburbs.
Imagine buying space in a building as part of a community with shared spaces and opportunities to interact with others. You don’t have to move as your life changes. Instead, your space changes to suit your needs. Initially, you may want a lot of open space and just a small kitchen. When your partner moves in, you reconfigure your space and replace a minimalistic kitchen with a fully functional kitchen where you and your partner cook together. Then, you create one more bedroom and add a bath. You stay in the same community and the same space, but your space adjusts as your life evolves.
This is the world of modular living in the making.
When I was growing up in Warsaw, Poland, modular construction was a synonym for high-cost, low-quality construction and tasteless, cookie-cutter neighbuorhoods. Now, modular construction and business models can give us unique, soulful living as part of a community, where our surroundings evolve with us. Modular construction is attractive, cost-effective and sustainable.
Globally, over half of humans already live in cities, and by 2100 the figure is expected to rise to 85% (or to about 9 billion people). This change can place strain on the small patches of land cities occupy. Can we live in cities but still stay connected to nature? As Neri Oxman discussed in a recent podcast, urban and natural, convenience and community do not have to be mutually exclusive. And modular construction plays a key role in accomplishing such a balance.
So, what’s the formula for the most sustainable and livable urban future? In my view, we need to start with modernizing and adapting existing buildings to future needs, balancing old charm and new conveniences, integrating nature and creating communities. When we end up building new structures, we can take advantage of modular construction and innovative building methods and tools to construct them more efficiently and to build in modularity from the start.
Are you drawn to older, historic buildings with their “lumps and bumps”? The quirks of these old buildings captivate us and draw us in. When we feel an emotional connection to a building, we cherish it and want to maintain and evolve it while preserving its character.
Eighty-five percent to 95% of the buildings that exist today will still be standing in 2050. It is not uncommon to upgrade buildings, especially office spaces, that are just seven years old. Especially now, many developers and tenants look for ways to entice employees to come to offices to collaborate and innovate. Thus, they implement new technologies and boost energy efficiency. Increasingly, however, they also build flexibility into their design, anticipating a building’s evolution and thus preserving its value, making it future-proof.
A people-centric view of construction results in buildings that are more flexible, affordable and personal. The most functional residential buildings are customizable to our needs at every stage in our lives. Modular construction and buildings bring a multitude of benefits, including reduced waste, speedy building, cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness and flexibility.
Modular construction is both profitable and sustainable: The market is projected to grow from $76 billion in 2021 to $115 billion in 2028.
One big benefit of the modular home approach is that it addresses the need for affordable housing. “Expandable” house projects are built from local, inexpensive materials and are designed for changeable configurations. Some modular housing can expand horizontally and vertically (up to three stories) and features resources such as safe roof-water harvesting, green electricity and Wi-Fi.
Forward-thinking architects are designing buildings that respond to external circumstances, such as this “operable, interactive village hut” in China that opens and closes depending on the temperature. In Helsinki, Little Finland was built to serve as a temporary modular conference space during a three-year renovation of the neighboring Finlandia Hall. This adaptable space will be repurposed for new uses after the renovation is complete.
The construction industry is currently responsible for 38% of overall greenhouse gas emissions. Modular building projects can significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions because they’re typically completed 30% to 50% faster than traditional construction.
We all want to feel connected and have a sense of belonging to where we live. Our living spaces don’t have to be our bespoke castles; they can integrate us into vibrant communities. Our homes should evolve as our needs evolve, bond us with our history and keep us emotionally connected to nature. Welcome to the future of construction—welcome to the future of living. (Forbes)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro … These sped up clips are posted to encourage others to be creative, to take advantage of the technology many of us already have and to use it to produce satire. Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comforted.