WoHo Raises $4.5 Million in Seed Funding, led by The Engine, to Transform the Design and Construction of Resilient Living and Working Spaces
Partnership with LaFargeHolcim will assist WoHo’s mission to reimagine architectural design, engineering, manufacturing and construction for more sustainable, longer-lasting buildings
CAMBRIDGE, MA. — WoHo (World Home), a technology company that transforms the way spaces are conceived and created, today announced it has raised $4.5 million in seed funding. The company integrates architecture, engineering and construction into a single, streamlined platform to quickly design and construct high quality buildings.
The investment round was led by The Engine, the venture firm spun out of MIT that invests in early-stage Tough Tech companies that are solving the world’s most urgent problems, such as addressing the housing affordability and shortage crisis, through the convergence of breakthrough science, engineering, and leadership.
WoHo Systems are made up of a series of discrete foundational components which can be scaled and configured to span residential and commercial buildings such as multifamily housing, hotels, dormitories, labs and offices. These components are optimized for fabrication, transportation, assembly and operation. WoHo Systems reinvent reinforced concrete technology and building performance, serving as competitive solutions for low-to-high-rise construction.
“While modular construction has existed for decades it has suffered from an association with low-end, low-quality materials. Its lack of momentum can be attributed to segmented supply chains for materials sourcing and transportation,” said Israel Ruiz co-founder and CEO of WoHo. “Creating a single, standardized platform for design, manufacture and construction 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 also announced a partnership with LafargeHolcim, who shares its commitment to push the boundaries of green construction. WoHo components are made of advanced and ultra-high performance concrete and the sustainable material is central to its construction and architectural Systems.
“With timber costs rising, builders are increasingly considering concrete-based construction methods as a lower cost, more sustainable alternative to traditional wood framing,” said Jamie Gentoso, CEO of U.S. Cement, for LafargeHolcim. “WoHo and LafargeHolcim are a natural fit to work together. Its vision for resilient, concrete-based construction aligns with our mission to reduce the overall CO2 footprint of our materials.”
According to a McKinsey report, by 2030 nearly $130B will be spent on modular home construction in the U.S. and Europe yet there’s a backlog of supply in regions with labor shortages or high variability in onsite construction conditions due to weather seasonality. WoHo expects to lower the costs of construction by more than 20%, shrink project delivery time by 50%, and reduce the ecological footprint of buildings by 70%, all while improving project predictability and construction quality.
WoHo plans to build lean, modular factories that balance automation and handwork close to construction hubs, simplifying the logistics, lowering the costs, and reducing the environmental footprint of its buildings. The factories will produce WoHo components with width spans ranging from 16 to 20 ft that can be connected or separated three-dimensionally based on specific project needs. These components assemble into a structural grid, particularly suited for residential and other compatible retail, office or parking uses.
WoHo’s founding team is cross-disciplinary, led by Israel Ruiz, an engineer and former EVP and Treasurer of MIT and renowned architects Anton Garcia-Abril, a professor of the School of Architecture at MIT and his co-founder of Ensamble Studio, Debora Mesa who is Ventulett Chair in Architectural Design at Georgia Tech. Garcia-Abril and Mesa have worked over the last two decades to prototype and test the approach and partnered with Ruiz, who they met at MIT in 2012, to form WoHo with the goal of reimagining the way buildings are designed and made.
“WoHo is pioneering construction through technology,” said Katie Rae, CEO & Managing Partner of The Engine. “The ability to design, build and manufacture living and working spaces to be shipped and assembled quickly at a construction site provides more control, less waste and quicker time from design to occupancy. In some areas where housing prices and demands outpace the ability to meet them, this technology will shorten the gap.”
WoHo is conducting its first pilot at WoHo Lab in Madrid and plans to build one in Boston in early 2021. WoHo is headquartered at The Engine and WoHo Lab functions as the company’s research and development, IP and design operations for its modular factories. This seed capital will be used to build out U.S. manufacturing, further partner pilots, broaden the team and help the company scale.