Woho Offsite construction render

Arup forges relationship with offsite construction start-up WoHo to develop next-level modular buildings.

UK consulting engineer Arup has teamed with US-based offsite construction firm WoHo promising scalable modular buildings that are affordable and green.

A trio of engineers and architects out of MIT and Georgia Tech have embarked on a journey to  establish a streamlined platform for the design, manufacture and construction of modular buildings.

MIT’s former treasurer Israel Ruiz with architects Anton Garcia-Abril of MIT and Debora Mesa of Georgia Tech are collaborating on a startup called WoHo (World Home) that’s re-imagining how building are constructed by creating flexible modules and elements that can be connected.

L-R: WoHo’s Israel Ruiz, Debora Mesa and Anton Garcia-Abril.

The goal of WoHo is to lower construction costs, maximise flexibility for architects and deliver compelling spaces for end users, all while making projects greener in a climate unfriendly world.

Their actions caught the attention of Katie Rae, CEO and managing partner of The Engine, a special VC fund that spun out of MIT that is well known for its long-term investment goals, and they’re backing it with US$4.5 million in seed capital.

“While modular construction has existed for decades, it has suffered from an association with low-end, low-quality materials,” said WoHo CEO and cofounder Israel Ruiz. “[WoHo] will disrupt home and multi-use buildings, as developers and suppliers can more quickly and efficiently meet sustainability standards to address affordability and the housing shortage.” 

WoHo aims to establish a streamlined platform that supports the design, manufacture and construction of high-quality modular buildings with precision and efficiency using foundational components that can be scaled and configured to span residential and commercial buildings, multifamily housing, hotels, dormitories, labs and offices. The design and engineering behind the components can be reused, driving efficiency and consistency and enabling a high level of customisation available to each project.

Impression of a WoHo component under construction.

Arup’s integrated multidisciplinary team of experts is working with WoHo and its energy and environmental consultants to develop energy-efficient and scalable solutions in SMEP engineering (structural, mechanical, electrical and public health). The team is providing consulting services for building code and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. A pilot project is slated to kick off in Boston in 2021, which will put the team one step closer to achieving its goal of revolutionising the way modular buildings are designed and constructed. 

The group has already achieved some traction in the market, having secured a partnership with Swiss concrete and building materials company LafargeHolcim.

Images courtesy of WoHo.

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