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design or production – what should the construction industry be learning from the automotive industry?

Updated: Feb 15

Volkswagen’s MQB Modularer Querbaukasten, translating to Modular Transverse Matrix  is a modular, adaptable system to engineer and build cars.

Using this platform cars can vary greatly in size and include: Audi A3, Audi Q2, Audi TT, Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia, Skoda Superb, Volkswagen Atlas, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Lamando, Volkswagen Passat, and the Volkswagen Touran.


All cars using the platform share the same distance from the front axle to the fire wall and identical mounting points for the engines (regardless of petrol, diesel or hybrid). To create larger of smaller vehicles the dimensions of the other parts of the car can be varied and the MQB parts bin allows for standardised, interchangeable components. This creates a common production process regardless of the how the car is produced, the factory size or its location.

The MQB results in efficient production:

“Volkswagen and the Group brands are able to develop their new models and variants quickly on the flexible basis of the MQB. Over the years, the matrix has been continuously extended and refined. It is divided into several model ranges and evolutionary stages – the current Golf being the latest one. All MQB-based vehicles can be standardised and produced efficiently in the factories of the global production network. There are also significant advantages for model changeovers. When the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg started production of the new Golf in 2019, it was possible to still use around 80 percent of the existing installations in the body shop. The MQB also makes it possible to build vehicles with different wheelbases and track widths, or models of different brands, on the same production line.”

Is it practical to adopt a similar approach to house designs?

Houses have lounges, kitchens, shower rooms , bathrooms and bedrooms - is it practical to standardise these?

The Welsh standards pattern book April 2001 for a 3 bedroom 5 person house ( 82.7m/sq width 5.3mx 7.8m ) is a tried and tested layout with similar iterations used for over 100 years. Regulations have increased the size and the required thermal performance of the dwellings but the general layout is still being built today.

Would it be possible to take this house design and:

  • agree that all rooms types will be the same size and configutation regardles of who’s building them?

  • adjust it so it’s practical to build in brick and block, in a framed solution or fully modular off site?

  • vary the external envelope thermal efficiency and appearance?

  • design the service runs to suit all manufacturers products/ technology?

Regardles of where the houses are being built ( location, site or factory ) will this lead to standardisation, construction efficiencies and cost savings?

In the same way as the automotive industry have benefited from a focus on design does the construction industry have the design and ditigal software capability do the same to create a “ modular, adaptable system to engineer and build houses”?

Similar to a complex Lego model with standard blocks Creu Cartref dwelling types are designed from a limited number of room modules that are interchangeable and fully coordinated in our 3d design software.

Would this make things easier?

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