Modular Construction Method: A Lesson From History

The origins of prefabrication technology—where construction is carried out off-site in a factory—can be traced back to the 1200s, according to a University of the West England journal.

This prefab construction method (PCM) is an important milestone in the development of modular technology, resulting in improved product quality and faster construction time.

Based on the journal1, we need to understand the modular background begins with the development of prefabricated technology:

1. The Origins of Prefabricated Housing (1200-1600)
2. Prefabricated Housing (1624-1800)
3. Progression of Prefabricated Housing (1800-1918)
4. Prefabricated Housing (1918-1945)
5. Prefabricated housing from post-WW2 (1959)
6. Prefabricated housing (1960s, 70s and 80s)
7. Prefabricated housing – Going Forward (1990-present)

However, back in 770-825 AD, modular concept was used in some form in Indonesia with the construction of the Borobudur temple—the world’s largest as a relic of Buddhist history—followed by the Prambanan temple—a historical Hindu heritage—around 850 AD, both designed by Gunadharma. Borobudur was built using 60,000 cubic metres of stone, consisting of 504 Buddha statues, 72 terawang stupas, a main stupa, and 2,672 ‘modular’ relief panels measuring 123 x 123 square metres and 42 metres high2. The Prambanan temple comprised of three trimurti temples, two wahana temples, two apit temples, four kelir temples, four patok temples and 224 ancillary temples.

Modular concept was used in some form in Indonesia with the construction of the Borobudur temple

Today, there are generally three methods of off-site construction:
1. Prefabrication: where modules are made part by part
2. Modular: the unification of prefabrication parts in a module
3. Volumetric: a combination of modules into a function of space

Modular Division Manager,
PT Wijaya Karya Bangunan Gedung Tbk (WEGE)

Graduating from Polytechnic–University of Indonesia (Politeknik UI) in 1999, Wisnu continued his studies at the Institut Sepuluh November (ITS) the following year. He started at PT Wijaya Karya (Persero) Tbk in 2004, and was assigned to head the company’s engineering section a year later. In 2011, Wisnu was appointed as Project Manager at PT Wijaya Karya, and three years later, as Head of the Commercial Division of the Property Division of PT Wijaya Karya Bangunan Gedung. In 2018, he began leading the Modular Division of PT Wijaya Karya Bangunan Gedung Tbk.

Wisnu also teaches at PT Wijaya Karya (Persero) Tbk in the construction management, commercial engineering, quantity surveying, technical support, and procurement and equipment fields.

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