buildings nature sustainable development health self-reliance

Modular Rooftop Building
Benefits and Opportunities

by Don Kulak

People’s needs and situations are forever changing in this fast-paced society, and the construction industry is beginning to take notice. Conventional building and real estate development as a whole are considered static, more or less permanent, and non-liquid assets. Today, the construction industry is beginning to better accommodate changing demographics, lifestyles, family/business situations, etc., with construction methods that facilitate cost and time-effective add-ons to existing buildings.

Home additions and/or remodeling is now a massive industry, which led to the success of building supply giants like Home Depot and Lowes. However, creating additional living/work area to a home or business can be very time consuming, dirty, expensive, and inconvenient. Why? Because conventionally-constructed buildings are not designed to be altered in any major way, that is to say, load-bearing walls will have to be reinforced if another level is to be added, and the roof will have to be torn off and rebuilt. Plumbing and electric will have to be re-routed…

Module, a technology startup in Pittsburgh, designs homes that can grow as the owner’s needs, family or lifestyle changes. home-buyers can buy the amount of house they need today, and know that they can easily add on as their situation changes. The Module houses have roof assemblies that are easily removed and reattached, thereby eliminating costly demolition of the old roof and reconstructing a new one. The walls are built with 2 X 8” studs, and can withstand the weight of another level, if needed.

The cost for one of these homes before any additions are made is slightly more conventional construction. However, Module homes are also built to the Department of Energy’s “Zero Energy Ready Home” and “Passive Haus” standards.” That is to say, the home is designed to use zero energy if solar panels were installed.

The real savings comes when putting on new additions to create more gross living area. According to Brian Gaudio, CEO of Module, the time required to build an addition will be reduced by some 40-50%, while the monetary savings will be approximately 20%.

This is a viable option for those in transitional stages and who want more energy savings. It can also be a major selling feature when putting the house on the market.

Rooftop Building for more living area and green space in overcrowded cities

Berlin Germany is expecting a population of four million people in 2030. That means 500.000 more citizens in 14 years.

Infrastructure such as sewers and metro are already prepared for the growth. Apartments and living area are what the city is lacking.
City rooftops are usually large empty asphalt areas holding nothing more than air conditioning units. Utilizing these spaces for to generate more revenue is nothing new, as many building owners are creating rooftop gardens, cafes, etc. to create more leasable space.

The city of Berlin has taken this a step further, creating a city above a city. DACHKIEZ Village on the Roof runs 270 meters on the rooftops along Heinrich-Heine-Straß, between the attractive Kreuzberg and Mitte neighborhoods.

At first, long green park is established on the roof along the entire length of the building. The park offers a scenic walk with paths between little hills containing the roots of the trees. Every hallway is extended with a staircase and elevator so every neighbor gets access to the attractive outdoor facilities.
Imagine you have lived in a house for many years and suddenly a construction site starts over your roof. After completion, a new segment of people moves in and changes the demographic of your community at a rapid pace. This project insures the inhabitants of the existing building also benefit from the extension, and share facilities with the newcomers.

In Dachkiez, the extension on top of the building is designed to use a flexible, wooden, modular system. The basic module is an apartment suitable for singles or couples. The basic unit can be extended with one or two plug-in modules, which can include additional bedrooms and an extension to the bathroom. All designs also include common areas like a green park on the rooftop, and large windows with views of the Berlin skyline.