To put it simply, prefab means to construct in a factory setting and modular means repetition. Prefab modular construction, we believe, is the future of housing.
Construction today is all about the mobilization of people, equipment, and materials. The overhead associated with this approach is very costly. Prefab construction can offer solutions to efficiency and affordability by removing this demand for extreme mobilization. Simply construct your project in a factory setting, in a controlled environment, and ship it to the site for final assembly.
This way of construction is not a new idea. Mobile homes have been built for years. The issue with mobile homes is they only offer the function of four walls and a roof with little else. Can architecture solve the lack of identity and experience mobile homes offer yet take advantage of their efficiencies and affordability? We think so.
Something modular doesn't have to lack identity and individuality. Something built in a factory doesn't mean it can't respond to its context and offer user experience. Exceptional design can solve such big issues. There are more and more examples of successful pre-fabs out there every day. From single-family homes to condos, prefab does not have to be a cookie-cutter design and can offer all the same benefits. The factory setting offers more control to the designers by being more involved in the process of construction. With CNC machines, 3D printing technology, and laser cutters the design possibilities are endless making the construction more of a technical exercise rather than a labor-intense one.
When it comes to affordable housing solutions, we cannot think of a better approach to construction than prefab modular construction. The trick is to offer a sense of identity and place to the architecture as well as a quality user experience to attract more high-end buyers.
Not up for whole project prefab? Consider other prefab products that can streamline the construction process. SIPS are a great example. Assembled in a factory using the architect's plans and specs, these panels serve as structure, thermal envelope, and can come pre-finished. Thinking of your project as a kit of parts that are then assembled on-site can be a hybrid between prefab and site built.
© 2019 by Clements Wimsatt Architects PLLC