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New Innovative Modular Design and Construction Platform

BOXY got it’s start in shipping containers as a modular design platform. Both co-founders (Tiago and myself) worked at BMarko where we learned to take raw shipping containers fresh from China and turn them into awesome buildings and structures. After we left BMarko, we started to work extensively with cold form steel framing. Then the idea hit us… what if we made the equivalent of the shipping container out of cold form steel. This solved a lot of the problems we had with shipping containers. Instead of:

  • Cutting and removing material from the container walls
  • Framing interior walls to create cavities for insulation
  • Condensation on the container walls
  • Welding reinforcements
  • Fixed size

We could do the following with cold formed steel:

  • Only cut as much cold formed steel as needed
  • Create our insulated cavities with the structural framing
  • No condensation issue with sheathing on the exterior
  • No welding required if everything is a screwed connection
  • Flexible size

That being said, there are some drawbacks to using metal stud framing. For example, lifting is trickier than containers because you can’t just pick it up in the corners depending on the size. Also compared to wood, you have a higher level of thermal bridging, but that can we resolved with better exterior cladding.

So, what’s the best modular design?

Time will tell, but we think that developing a common modular design based on cold formed steel will go a long way in developing a component industry for the modular construction industry. We call it the Block Design and Build system.

Modular Design and Block Build

Block Design and Build System

The BOXY Block Design and Build System is a modular design system that uses primarily cold form steel modules called Blocks that are 12’x36′ so that they can be easily arranged or stacked. The system calls for a database of engineering that establishes precedent for what is possible and what isn’t possible with a Block. For example, once it is established that the long side can contain 3 6’x3′ windows, then that information is logged into a database of engineering precedents that is shared. Additionally, BOXY is not the only manufacture of the Block system framing. Anyone can manufacture it.

More succinctly, the Block Design and Build System goals are:

  • Sharing of engineering
  • Repetitious testable blocks
  • Highly transportable in stud packs, preassembled panels, or volumes
  • Lower cost to construct due to all of the above

I doubt we are the first to suggest an idea like this. Z-Modular has tried to develop an ecosystem with their VectorBloc® Connection. And others are working on repeatable modular units, but still we think there is merit to defining a modular design standard.

Build with BOXY,

Mateo Atwi


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