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Carolina Martín

ESR14

Carolina Martin is an experienced Architect with strong interests in affordable housing, adaptability and digital fabrication. She holds a Bachelor and Master degree in Architecture from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (2014) and a Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing from the Polytechnic University of Madrid and ETH Zürich (2019). Her final thesis “Coworking en el Cabanyal” was awarded with the Eduardo Torroja Award 2014 for its structural and constructive complexity, reinterpreting the traditional use of materials and repairing the city's urban fabric.

She has worked in several international offices in Valencia, London and Rotterdam, gaining professional experience in residential, office and mixed-use developments in different cultural backgrounds such as London, Japan or Taiwan. Her expertise in BIM has been an essential tool to design in an efficient, precise and agile way, especially in the technical and construction stages.

She believes that architecture should be a tool at the service of people, with the capacity to regenerate the city and help solve the current needs in society. Through the use of innovation, knowledge, research and addressing contemporary needs with the current digital tools, architecture should provide mass-customized solutions at a low cost and in a sustainable framework. She is confident that creating tailor-made dwellings and promoting circularity and adaptability will enhance a resilient and affordable housing stock.

Research topic

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May, 19, 2022

February, 28, 2022

Democratising housing design through Mass Customisation

A framework to implement mass customisation using industrialised methods of construction to deliver affordable and sustainable housing

 

Mass Customisation (MC) is a broad term that has been in continuous evolution since it was first suggested in 1987.  MC is a process by which a company approaches its production in a customer-centric manner, developing products and services according to the needs and requirements of each individual customer, keeping costs near to mass production. This concept is strongly linked to the Open Building theory that emerged during the 80s influenced by Habraken’s ideas which enabled dwellings to be in a continuous evolution by grouping its elements into different control levels, allowing participation and freedom of choice. Today, MC is increasingly demanded in multiple manufacturing industries, it is paramount to make use of the latest digital tools and industrialised methods of construction to implement it into the housebuilding industry.

 

The existing housing stock does not respond to the varied needs of the current households, nor is resilient enough to adapt to the future ones. Promoting mass-customised housing involving all stakeholders in the process would result in a much more valuable, adaptable, and sustainable built environment. During the last decade there have been multiple attempts to find the right balance between the level of variety offered versus the need to standardise and adopt an economy of scale. Several studies have drawn their attention into how users prioritise their customisation needs and the way these could be integrated in the Industrial Construction business strategy. Setting up the correct solution space is one of the operational challenges for a company to establish as a mass customiser. Many studies have examined how the location of the decoupling point in the value chain will have a decisive role in defining the level of customisation offered and consequently the solution space. Additionally, it has been detected that one of the elements hindering the optimisation of processes is the stratification and segregation between the different disciplines in de industry. Therefore, the solution space should be the result of a fruitful ongoing communication between the user’s needs, the internal capabilities of the IC company and all the stakeholder involved in the process. Despite its importance for the integration of MC in the delivery of housing, there is little research about it.

 

This project will investigate the implementation of MC in the housebuilding industry through a transdisciplinary approach, using industrial and sustainable building methods and incorporating ICTs such as BIM. The research will select three case studies from the European context that have been completed with different levels of industrialisation. Through a cross-case study comparative method, it will evaluate to what extent the systems have an impact on the customisation possibilities, the role of the diverse actors in the construction process, and the implications on optimisation and scalability. A research through design method will be used to compile all the gained knowledge into a tool that will be tested by industry partners as Grupo Casais and other stakeholders to evaluate the transferability of knowledge between disciplines and showcase the relationship between the levels of industrialisation and the types of customisation.

 

The proposed outputs will include a framework and guidelines to develop a solution space using industrialised methods of construction to deliver mass-customised affordable and sustainable housing.

A framework to implement mass-customization in industrial construction companies to deliver affordable and sustainable housing 

 

Mass Customization (MC) is a broad term that has been in continuous evolution since it was first suggested in 1987.  MC is a process by which a company approaches its production in a customer-centric manner, developing products and services according to needs and requirements of each individual customer, keeping costs near to mass production. This concept is strongly linked to the Open Building (OB) theory that emerged during the 80s influenced by Habraken’s ideas which enabled dwellings to be in a continuous evolution by grouping its elements into different control levels, allowing participation and freedom of choice. Today, MC is increasingly demanded in multiple manufacturing industries, it is paramount to make use of the latest ICT tools to implement it into the housebuilding industry.

 

Currently, most of the affordable housing developers invest in efficient and profitable mass dwellings, reducing the typologies to the bare minimum for the sake of higher economical revenue and therefore not responding to contemporary varied family structures and necessities. Promoting mass-customized housing involving all stakeholders in the process would result in much more valuable, resilient and sustainable buildings. During the last decade there have been multiple attempts to find the right balance between the level of variety offered versus the need to standardize and adopt an economy of scale. Several studies have drawn their attention into how users prioritize their customization needs in order to integrate them in the Industrial Construction (IC) business strategy. Setting up the correct solution space is one of the operational challenges for a company to become mass customizer of affordable and sustainable housing.  The solution space should be the result of a fruitful ongoing communication between the user’s needs and the internal capabilities of the company. Despite its importance, there is little research about it.

 

This project will investigate the implementation of mass customization in the housebuilding industry through a transdisciplinary approach, using industrial and sustainable building methods and incorporating ICTs such as BIM. Through a qualitative methodology approach, the thesis will analyze current industrial building methods in collaboration with Casais, to assess the flexibility and constraints of the different levels of industrialization in order to define the optimal workflow to develop a system capable of providing adaptable units. The research will assess the sustainability of the system based on multiple factors, such as the fulfilment of the user’s needs, the reduction of construction waste and the implementation of the shearing layers of change, supported by case studies of the OB concept. The proposed outputs will include a framework and guidelines to develop a solution space utilizing BIM for an IC company to deliver mass-customized affordable and sustainable housing.

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Rebuild 2022 Madrid | The foundations are set for a promising construction industry

Posted on 03-05-2022

In a rapidly changing world where the world’s urban population is increasing by 200,000 people per day and the global carbon emissions of the construction sector are 30%, there is a pressing need to provide an affordable and sustainable housebuilding industry. The integration of modern innovative techniques in the construction sector can allow the rise of productivity and a higher democratisation of the built environment, having a direct impact on global economic, environmental, and societal issues. The Rebuild 2022 Conference that took in Madrid was an exciting event centred in how to boost the construction industry through innovation, circularity, and private-public investment. I found interesting to see the varied perspectives from different stakeholders of the construction business from construction companies, suppliers and fabricators to public entities, developers, architects, and software designers. All of them showed their particular response to the challenges the sector is undergoing from their own experience. Nevertheless, their different approaches converged in the necessity to increase the optimisation of processes, the required collaboration between all stakeholders and the need to embrace a full digitisation of the construction industry. The main topics discussed during the three-day conference were industrialisation, digitisation, and sustainability.   Industrialisation In order to meet the demand that the construction industry requires, we cannot continue building in a traditional way. An industrialisation of the business is needed to achieve the scalability of solutions and the adoption of lean construction methods. It is necessary to unify the architecture design with the constructive process from the initial stages. The selection of the MMC (Modern Method of Construction) and the logistics will have an influence on the design. Therefore, it is essential to invite the contractor, engineers and fabricators to collaborate with the developer and design team from the beginning to allow for an integrated project delivery and to optimise the manufacturing process. Most of the companies working in the housebuilding industry agreed that a system based on 2D components prefabricated off-site was the most effective currently, as it allowed for greater flexibility while at the same time reduced the construction time and minimised errors, keeping the transportation costs lower than with 3D elements. A few companies advocated that the use of 3D elements was beneficial when the room was a very compact one (e.g. bathrooms) and there were a high number of identical instances (e.g. hospitality industry).   Digitisation The fourth industrial revolution has accelerated dramatically the productivity in other industrial sectors, as the automotive, naval or aerospace, while in the construction sector the levels of automation are generally still low. In these industries, the use of the digital twin is the main driver of development and continuous learning. Several industry professionals pointed out that the lack of digital implementation in the construction industry has been one of the reasons why industrialised construction has not been broadly implemented in multi-family housing yet in Spain. Construction has always been a collaborative practice but without an adequate digitisation, it will remain fragmented. New innovations in technology should be implemented into the housebuilding industry as an added value to the sector and to the user. Some examples that could help in the digitisation of the industry would be the use of digital twins, allowing for traceability and monitoring throughout the design and construction process, increasing precision and minimising waste; the use of BIM as a design tool, data collector and collaborative environment, being able to give precise quantities and pricing from initial design stages, avoiding important price variations; or the introduction of automation and robotics to substitute manual labour in repetitive and dangerous activities.   Sustainability Decarbonization, net-zero buildings, and the use of wood as a circular material were some of the hot topics on the sustainability agenda. Likewise, the evaluation of LCCA (Life Cycle Cost Analysis)  and LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) have become vital to be able to make the right choices from the beggining. Sustainability, innovation, and technology are essential to overcome obsolescence, but to do so it is necessary to monitor the consumption throughout the entire building’s lifespan. In the race against climate change, wood is gaining greater support in the Spanish construction industry. A sector that has been for decades strongly defined by its concrete production, is starting to become aware of the advantages of building with circular materials. The industry has not only recognized that wood is a renewable material that retains heat, absorbs CO2, lasts longer, and can be recycled, but as well that it has a positive effect on the user’s physical and mental health, improving their wellbeing. Important housing developers are planning to reduce the CO2 emissions by 80% in their ongoing projects by using hybrid construction in wood, by increasing their level of industrialisation, and by improving their digitisation. Construtech companies are offering end-to-end services using platforms that integrate through technology all the stakeholders in a sustainable supply chain.   The construction sector has opened their eyes to realize what architects have been pursuing for a century. A user-centric approach where the wellbeing, passive design criteria and the planet are key in the decision-making. With the difference that today we have the technology and innovation to accept these challenges in an efficient way, monitoring and measuring our progress to take firm steps towards a more environmental, societal, and economic sustainability.   The Rebuild 2022 Conference showcased that the construction sector is in an exciting moment of transformation. The industry has laid the foundations to progress into a more industrialised, collaborative, efficient, and technological sector, to be able to offer sustainable and democratic quality housing at an affordable price.

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