Modularisation strategies in the AEC industry: a comparative analysis

Sara Shafiee, Poorang Piroozfar, Lars Hvam, Eric R.P. Farr, George Q. Huang, Wei Pan, Anders Kudsk, Jeppe Bredahl Rasmussen, Manuel Korell

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Many industries have benefited from modularisation; while in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, the concept of modularisation is associated with dimensional coordination. This has added to an already extensive list of challenges due to market size and the concept of economies of scale in AEC industry, to name but a few. Moreover, there is a myth that the AEC industry is bound to stay associated with build-to-order or made-to-order approach caused the AEC industry to restrict modularisation to the component level. This changes the balance in favour of what this paper calls a bottom-up approach. On the other hand, a valid alternative strategy – referred to in this study as top-down strategy – remains very much underexploited. The clients, therefore, do not have a neutral means by which they can assess which strategy is in their best interest. Likewise, if a construction company plans to make a strategic move towards the principles of modularisation and off-site manufacturing, they do not have clear decision support tool. This study investigates these two main modularisation strategies in the AEC industry to provide some examples of successful cases regarding how, when and where such strategy have been applied by different construction companies in different cases. The collected and collated empirical data and the results from the interviews will help clients and companies to analyse their own cases and make operational decisions on how, when and where to best utilise the bottom-up and top-down modularisation techniques while considering the pros and cons of such decisions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArchitectural Engineering and Design Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)270-292
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Modularisation
  • Architecture
  • Engineering and construction (AEC)
  • Top‐down modularisation
  • Bottom‐up modularisation
  • Industrialised building systems


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