Prefabrication is not a new idea for architects, but its usage is arguably on the rise. Using prefabricated materials can keep your costs down, as well as make your project more sustainable and efficient. But for this to happen, there must be a defined process of construction, which respects the architectural intent and integrates the entire structure with the building's facilities. This way, the work can be carried out in the shortest time possible, and the cost of labor and maintenance is reduced, as is the waste of materials.
The five designs selected below adopt prefabricated materials and demonstrate the benefits that it brings to the creative design strategy. Read on to see what each of their architects said about their prefabrication strategy.
"Materials have been selected for their efficiency at the detailing stage, either because they were prefabricated or did not require excessive finishing during construction. The polycarbonate and cement panels used on the external facade and in the lining of the main exhibition area, together with the expanded steel grills covering the ceiling, are examples of such materials."
"After building a lot of prototype buildings (Steel framing, wood skillet, eps building, steel-wood combo, (…) they came into contact with CLT: Cross Laminated Timber. CLT is not cheap, but for our application it was a great construction method: extremely strong, good thermal properties, fast production, almost no cold bridges, easy to transport, stable construction (like lifting with cranes) and also it comes already in very nice interior finishing’s (so no need for plaster which easily cracks)."
"Prefab Houses are produced in a controlled environment and carefully made. They are born in a factory and taken to their final destination."
"This house offers not only the response to a timely and specific problem of your design and construction but also for studying the verification of a series of investigations that are carrying out for some years on the implementation of systems prefabricated dry low cost, quick realization."
"The construction had the available budget as the main premise. To this end, we followed the construction method of the office’s recent work in the same neighborhood: Bar Mundial (World Bar) was built with metal structures and prefabricated concrete panels, which accelerated the time for executing the work. This prefabrication system with concrete elements was developed by our office in order to subvert the use of a material widely applied in Brazil. Often used for concreting massive slabs, the panels were used here in the sealing of the building, in pairs giving form to hollow walls executed in 25 cm wide strips with variable height."
"Skylab Architecture and Method Homes partnered on developing a modular and prefab building system named HOMB. The system uses 100 square foot triangle modules designed to be site adaptable which fasten together to create endless form possibilities. Modules are stacked and assembled to meet the height and square footage requirements for each unique project."
“Affordable housing is an architectural challenge due to the necessary budget restrictions. We have attempted to mobilize modular construction with modest materials to create generous living spaces at the urban as well as the residential scale. The prefabricated elements are stacked in a way that allows every second module an extra meter of room height, making the kitchen-living areas unusually spacious. By gently adjusting the modules, the living areas open more towards the courtyard while curving the linear block away from the street to expand the sidewalk into a public square. Economical constraints often lead to scarcity—at Dortheavej, we have managed to create added value for the individual as well as the community."
" The requirements for this project were boldly defined from the beginning: the construction should be fast, cost effective and changeable over time, which prompted the studio to use prefabricated elements and to leave parts of the project undefined, assuming the immediacy, flexibility and resource optimization as core themes. (...) The ground floor is shaped by prefabricated slabs and structural panels in the external perimeter. This area was conceived in a very flexible way: it’s possible to add or remove compartments or let the whole floor functioning as a big open-space. "
"The hypothesis is, that if you create a prefabricated system which has a good architectural design, then you can reproduce this quality as much as you need it, within the laws of short/long production series. And if in the serial industrial production of buildings you get bored, you can also customize form and function through the system. More benefits when you fasten the building process and have more control over quality and cost."
"The wood digital cut system is a prefab technology and given the distance to urban centres and scarce qualified workmanship was chosen. The investigation was based in Berndt and Hilla Becher’s photographic rural archives finding particular interest in structural systems where the knot had to be spread from a single point given the thickness of the concurring timber elements such as beams, pillars and diagonals."
Still unsure of what material to use for your next project? Check out all your options here.