Today’s cities have been substantially reshaped to correspond with environmental and social needs or to reconstruct themselves after natural disasters or war. Whereas master plans and regulations take years, millions of people remain trapped in the crossfire and urgently need aid in their cities. With this pressing issue in mind, WZMH Architects developed a prefabricated- modular system for salvaging thousands of structures across Ukraine that have been partially or fully destroyed during the war. This system aims to integrate building technology into new buildings to create more sustainable communities.
Prefab: The Latest Architecture and News
Vantem is a startup construction company manufacturing high-efficiency, net-zero homes at competitive costs and low embodied carbon. The company recently raised a Series A round of investment from the Bill Gates-founded firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Net-zero homes, buildings that produce as much energy as they use, are typically cheaper to own than standard housing. Still, they often involve high construction costs since they require advanced building technologies and engineering. Vantem aims to change this dynamic by employing modular construction technology.
Now that the effects of climate change are visible and indisputable, consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever. In fact, as a United Nations 2021 study suggests, 85% of them reveal that sustainability plays a key role when making their purchase decisions, motivating businesses and manufacturers to respond accordingly. This explains the rising demand for electric vehicles and products made of renewable or recyclable materials. However, architecture – and especially traditional housing – seems to be several steps behind compared to other industries. Although there are numerous efforts to move towards a greener built environment, the way most buildings are made today continues to be outdated, creating tremendous amounts of waste and significantly contributing to the global carbon footprint.
The popularity of pre-designed and pre-fabricated homes is growing, moving much of the construction process from the building site into factories. While countries like Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom are increasingly adopting modular buildings to meet labor and housing shortages, Nordic countries like Sweden already build 90% of residential single-family houses in prefab wood. Despite the recent surge in interest, off-site building is by no means a new concept. In fact, the construction method has been present throughout history in many attempts to consolidate its use in construction: as far back as A.D 43, the Roman army brought with them prefabricated forts to Britain, while Japan has been building in wood off-site and moving parts in pre-assemblies for at least a thousand years.
Timber’s Prefab Advantage: How Offsite Prefabrication and Wood Construction can Boost Quality and Construction Speed
Prefabrication is not a new concept for architects, but its usage is evidently on the rise. With today’s limited spatial capacity and need for cost efficiency, the industrial strategy of architectural production has shifted towards an all-around-efficient approach, in some cases assembling projects in a matter of days or weeks .
Prefabricated wood components, used in both wooden frames and mass timber constructions, have helped solve many design and engineering challenges. In addition to material and time efficiency, reduced waste, and cost control , prefabricated wood elements offer the advantages of high performing and energy efficient passive designs .
Prefabricated design and manufacturing company Plant Prefab has announced their new lightHouse line, a set of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) available in multiple sizes. Working with designers Alchemy Architects, the LivingHomes concept joins a roster of work with partners that include KieranTimberlake, Koto Design and Brooks + Scarpa. With a size ranging from 310 square feet to 600, the newest line was inspired by Alchemy’s previous work on small-space living.
PREFAB Glamping Villa
International Ideas Competition
In 2021, Indonesia will host the prestigious motorcycle race Moto GP for the first time. This world-class motor racing event will be held on a new circuit in the Mandalika Special Economic Zone on the island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
Currently, Lombok lacks enough places for tourists to stay. Over 60,000 more hotel rooms are estimated by the government to be needed for this event. However, community members can build prefab glamping areas around remote villages using locally available materials. Prefab Glamping Villa is an open-ideas competition to prepare pleasant temporary living
Brooks + Scarpa and Plant Prefab have developed a new toolkit to address housing shortages. Scalable as an infill solution, the Nest toolkit can be configured in multiple ways using site types and typical lot sizes, or a combination of them. The toolkit was made to address LA’s shortage of supportive housing for the homeless and provide flexibility to meet the needs of a particular site, neighborhood, and bed count.
Some assembly required for this vision of future urban living. Known for simple, well-designed, flat-pack furniture, IKEA is proposing expanding their DIY-model to a much larger scale: entire city centers. Democratic Design Days is an annual event where IKEA introduces its upcoming brands and collaborations, this year featuring The Urban Village Project, a collaboration between SPACE10 and EFFEKT Architects. After two years of research, SPACE10 (IKEA’s global research and design lab) is releasing their vision to the public for a new way to design, build, and share our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.
French manufacturer Lumicene has unveiled a new minimalist prefab dwelling unit made to connect with nature. Called LumiPod, the curved structure is designed around a 5m diameter window that can slide along rails and open to the outdoors. Made to celebrate connections to nature, the 180 square foot prefab unit includes a bedroom, toilet and shower area. LumiPods are designed to be delivered anywhere in the world.
This article was originally published in Autodesk's Redshift publication as "How Building Modular Homes can Help Fill the Affordable Housing Gap."
“Modular” isn’t a construction product; it’s a construction process. This is according to Tom Hardiman, executive director of the Modular Building Institute (MBI), whose members include more than 350 companies involved in the manufacturing and distribution of modular buildings, including multifamily homes.
Architecture practice Carlo Ratti Associati has designed a low-cost prefabricated housing system for Indian non-profit WeRise. The new "Livingboard" system was made so that homeowners can build any structure they like on top of it. Made as a pilot project to encourage rural housing development, the system is being tested in a village outside Bangalore. As a portable "motherboard", the design provides homeowners prefabricated and flat-packed elements like waste management and water treatment systems.
Swiss Designer Yves Béhar has partnered with Plant Prefab to create LivingHome YB1, a series of Accessory Dwelling Units to be unveiled at the Summit festival in Los Angeles. Designed to address California’s legislation, the ADU aims to encourage increased urban density while limiting the environmental impact of new construction. LivingHomes YB1 is the first in a line of structures made to rethink prefab and increase accessibility, livability, and sustainability.
An Italian architect is proposing a new model of housing that, unlike the traditional residences, does not consist of a settled building, but in a folding and transportable house. It can be assembled in just six hours with the help of three people.
Christian Weber, a 20-plus year veteran of the Burning Man festival has learned a few tricks on the Playa. Shelter from the harsh Black Rock Desert winds, heat, dust and cold nights are attributes of an experienced camp. “Every year we unload our camp out of the container and use our container as our kitchen. It literally has fold-down tables [and] air conditioning… and when we’re all done, we throw it back in the container and it’s ready to go for next year.”
Eight minutes. That is the length of time UK-based company Ten Fold Engineering’s self-deploying structures can transform itself from a portable rectangular container into a fully habitable space that can be used for either the residential or service sector. Transported by truck, the company offers a shelter that is energy efficient, eliminates labor costs, and is highly customizable in an effort to revolutionize the possibilities of prefabrication and construction.
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.
Adding to their collection of pre-fabricated houses by top designers and architects, Robbie Antonio’s “Revolution Pre-Crafted” has released 3 new designs by Paulo Mendes Da Rocha + Metro, Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas, and Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects.
The three designs follow Revolution Pre-Crafted’s goal of democratizing the design of pre-fab structures, as they offer a line of products that incorporate the distinct spatial and social brands of master designers. The new houses join options from architects including Zaha Hadid, Sou Fujimoto, Daniel Libeskind and Gluckman Tang.