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May 9, 2019

Advantages of building a prototype before manufacturing begins

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A prototype is a representation of a design produced before the final solution exists. It allows the team, including the client, architect and other key stakeholders to better understand how the product will look once finished.

After Jackson Main Architecture completed the design, which NexGen Housing Partners (project owner) approved, the team at Metric Modular began constructing three prototype modules that included the following types of units designed for the Cubix at Othello project:

  • One one-bedroom unit
  • Two studio variations

One of the main advantages of modular construction is that it shortens the construction timeline significantly. As a result, every detail has to be planned very carefully. The prototype allows all details to be seen together, and it offers an opportunity to get everyone on the same page about how the design comes to life. Imagine a prototype as a dress rehearsal before a big production: costumes, make-up, props, music all come together to give a solid idea of what the final production will look like…

The Visit

In February, professionals from NexGen Housing Partners (project owner), Jackson Main Architecture (architect) and even Amalgamated Bank (construction lender), traveled from Seattle to visit Metric’s manufacturing facility in Agassiz (BC, Canada) to see the prototype units. The interdisciplinary group had the opportunity to walk through the units and complete an extensive checklist-driven inspection. Every participant provided critical feedback for Metric to process and incorporate before the actual construction of the modules began. This ensures minimal deficiencies and maximizes the full benefits of the factory assembly line.


Below are some of the items the team identified and corrected during this prototype tour:

  1. Kitchen faucet: chose a substitute model that had a better arm angle to prevent overspray
  2. USB charger port: changed the location and placement of the port to accommodate tenant’s natural choice
  3. Lighting: altered the number and location of ceiling fixtures
  4. Space optimization: made small changes to make the space more livable such as moving the stove a few inches to enhance overall room flow and make it more functional

The prototyping process allowed us to make a mistake once, catch it, and avoid replicating it in each of 70 suites!

Advantages of Building a Prototype

Seemingly minor details can cause major headaches without proper planning

Engagement + Collaboration

Essential to this process is a high level of engagement and communication from everyone involved in this project. More than ten busy professionals carved out nearly an entire day to inspect the prototype units. Prototyping is one of a multi-phase process Metric employs to produce a high-quality product, on-time, and on-budget. Central to high client satisfaction is fostering an environment of collaboration and trust, exemplified by the prototype inspection day. Metric is excited about playing its part in successfully completing the Cubix at Othello project and the positive impact it will have in the Othello neighborhood in Seattle.

Want to see how the modules are set?

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