RAW Module’s innovative approach presupposes the idea that high-end construction does not have to be a time-consuming and complex process, whether one is building a home or office. The ground-breaking Compact Modular system focusses on off-the-shelf pre-engineered modules – the optimum combination of flexibility and efficiency. The ultimate test was passed with flying colours when RAW Module built a 158m2 house on a stringent World Heritage Site, within 28 days, proving their methods are innovative and environmentally friendly.

Raw Innovation: Inventive Methodology – What is “Compact Modular”?

All services and elements of a room are concentrated into a single, smaller space to harness the advantages of offsite production. Electrical, water, ventilation, heating, cooling, smart technology, shop fitting and finishes are installed within each module. Costs and site activity are reduced as skilled work is completed in a factory. By compacting the elements into a standard, containerised module, no “empty spaces” are transported from the factory to the site.

Each module is designed to fit into a standard high-cube shipping container that can be transported anywhere in the world. In other words, RAW Module can “ship” labour from country to country. This reduces the cost of building locally and abroad and retains a strong labour force in South Africa.

Off-the-Shelf Module Library

RAW Module offers a library of off-the-shelf modules that can be mass-produced, ready for delivery when needed. Advantages of off-site manufacturing include quality control, the economy of scale and mass purchasing power. As RAW Module can take advantage of favourable labour costs and exchange rates, they can compete in global markets.

The Importance of Steel – How modules are made

A steel frame forms the base of the module. 100x100x3mm square hollow sections support overhead structures, be it another floor or the roof. Inner supporting wall struts and services installations are then reticulated within the frame. Furniture, cupboards, or other shop fittings are built into the frame and clients may choose the final colour and finishes of the module.

The Benefits of Using Steel in the Modules

Superior Precision – Precision-engineered steel-framed modules allow for tight-fitting connections and rapid construction.

Exceptional Strength and Rigidity – The steel’s strength allows for more open floorplans as steel can span long distances without the need for load-bearing walls; larger room spaces are created by using single, compact modules. The rigid steel frames prevent damage and the seams in the module walls do not crack during transportation.

Long-Term Durability – With the strength of steel ensuring a long lifespan and minimal maintenance, buildings constructed using the Compact Modular system enjoy the option of permanent or temporary placements. Steel endures impact without sustaining damage and absorbs lateral torsion making it the best base for a module.

Resistance to Fire, Pests and Mould – In both residential and commercial builds, steel is ideal as it is non-combustible and naturally resistant to mould and pests.

High Sustainability – Steel, in industry standards, is precision-manufactured to minimise waste. Any leftover pieces can be recycled without sacrificing steel’s strength. The steel frames from modules taken from disassembled, temporary structures can be refurbished for new modules or can be recycled.

Common Knowledge and Versatility – Building components are easily fixed to the modules with simple steel-to-steel connections that are readily available and come in standard bolt sizes. As steel is a familiar construction material in South Africa, it allows a simplified building process for contractors and labourers. The innovative building method is easy to grasp and adapt to.

Simplified Construction

RAW Module is a hybrid of conventional building and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). Conventional building methods maximise flexibility and customisation of size, layout and design, but lack the speed, efficiency and quality of a volumetric modular structure. The volumetric modular building system has the disadvantage of being too large to manufacture and store. Transportation and delivery are limited to the proximity of the factory. The Compact Modular system combines the efficiency, flexibility and mobility of the many varied types of construction.

How the 28 Day Module House benefitted from RAW Module

Restricting Site and Design Aesthetic – The 28-Day Modular House was built on a World Heritage site. While there are many limitations to what can be built on this kind of site, the client was permitted to build on an existing slab given that it matched the style of the existing IBR clad, barn-style buildings. One challenge faced by the modular construction industry is that built projects do not have the look and feel of traditional houses. RAW Module successfully achieved the efficiency of a modular construction method combined with a “brick and mortar feel” house.

Environmentally Friendly for a Delicate Site – Due to the sensitivity of the site, the land surrounding the concrete slab could not be uplifted or dug into, so the house had to be built on the existing slab.

Dry Construction – As water is a scarce resource, it was necessary to limit the use of water during construction. The environment was unharmed as there was little to no upliftment or washing away of soil into the nearby river. 

Less Waste – Off-the-shelf modules are factory-built so there is exceptionally low wastage; offcuts can be repurposed for other modules. When this house was built, the shipping container used for transporting the modules was recycled into a storeroom. It also acted as the main load-bearing structure for the garage and storeroom.

Circular Building – Although this house is classified as a permanent structure, all buildings have a certain lifespan. Given the need in a World Heritage site, the house can be easily dismantled and reused for other projects.

Lower CO2 Emissions – With fewer specialists, contractors and deliveries to site, the carbon footprint is dramatically lower.

Additionally, by having a house built so quickly and with most of the large and noisy production taking place off-site, there is lower noise pollution and less land pollution.

Rapid Building Process

By building on an existing slab, the bulk of the house’s structure was erected on the first day on site. By the end of day 1, all modules and structural posts were fixed to the slab. By day ten, all exterior structural work and interior drywalls had been completed. After this, the interior work could commence. As the modules hold most of the small items that take a lot of time to fit, the interiors could be completed quickly. 

Cost Comparison

RAW Module was able to compress the schedule. With fewer days on-site, fewer specialists involved and fewer damages to the surrounds, the client saved on expenses. It is usually more expensive (increased delivery costs, call out fees, etc) to build further from town with long distances between the factory and site, however, with a majority of the fine detailed work pre-installed in the modules, prices drastically decrease even if commuting.


RAW Module’s tried-and-tested construction method easily facilitates smart technology. Even in stringent conditions, RAW offers a modern, attractive and comfortable home. Greener. Faster. Smarter. That is how they build.

Project motivation editorials are provided by the project nominator. If any technical details, company names or product names are incorrect, please notify the SAISC so that the error can be corrected.

Physical address of the project
Street Address
32 Sterkfontein Caves Road
Google Maps link https://www.google.co.za/maps/place/TYO+Retreat+Centre/@- 26.0063892,27.7518607,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x1e9 59ab1252dae17:0x5fef9253604056c0!8m2!3d26.0063892!4d27. 7540494

Completion date of steelwork 16 November 2018
Completion date of full project 13 January 2019
Tonnage and steel profiles used Total tonnage: 4.73 Tonnes   Profiles: Modules: 100x100x3mm SHS (3276kg) Ring Beam: 200x100x3mm RHS (1241.2 kg) Steel Columns: 100x100x3mm SHS (208.98 kg)

Project Tem Role



RAW Module

Client/ Developer

Mosaiek Church Npc


RAW Module

Structural Engineer

BA Engineers


Quantity Surveyor

Project Manager

Raw Module

Main Contractor

Raw Module

Steelwork Contractor

Rbu Engineering

Steel Erector

Rbu Engineering

Cladding Manufacturer

SAFINTRA South Africa (Pty) Ltd

Cladding Supplier

SAFINTRA South Africa (Pty) Ltd

Cladding Contractor

Hollyberry Roofing



Paintwork Contractor


Photographer, Photo competition

Serfontein Solutions

Photographer, Other submitted images

RAW Module


If you were a part of this project, and your company details are incorrect or missing – please notify the SAISC so that the error can be corrected.