Adaptable Systems in Architecture and Design
The modular did not have to be invented: it can be found everywhere. We divide surfaces into grids, spaces into parts, and time into rhythmic units. Modular structures are also increasingly being recognized as a way of communicating, where the aim is not to construct a universal principle but to facilitate interplay between different systems.
Building on the visionary design system that architect Fritz Haller and engineer Paul Schärer developed in 1965 for Swiss furniture company USM, Rethinking the Modular brings together specially commissioned essays and interviews with leading designers, architects and thinkers to present the wide-ranging importance and influence of modular design over the past fifty years. In revealing the broad possibilities created by balancing structure with flexibility, the timely publication redefines the place of modularity in modern design history, and offers a rich resource for designers today.
In essence, modularity means a constant search for, and renegotiation of, the balance between the human need for freedom and flexibility on one hand, and for orientation and focus on the other. Often this cannot be achieved without contradiction or conflict. A module is not only a smaller unit within a system, which can be taken out and put back in the same place: it also serves as an interface and so communicate with other units and, occasionally, with other systems. A single piece can never be modular, since modularity always implies a connection with other parts. Modular structures are therefore communicative in nature. The latest ideas in contemporary design and architecture are beginning to take up this characteristic of modularity. It now seemed to be less important that all elements in a system should look the same; the crucial aspect is how modules are connected to each other. This book is all about rediscovering the communicative power of the modular.