(Article written in collaboration with ArchDaily)
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.
However, it wasn’t until post-World War II when one of the biggest efforts in entirely prefabricated housing occurred in the United States. Even though this successfully provided higher quality housing solutions to vulnerable groups, the method was not immune to backlash. The idea that housing is a standardized, repetitive product that rolls out of a factory instead of being crafted and personalized was heavily criticized, ultimately leading to its commercial failure. On the contrary, now prefab construction is taking over the market, not only being applied in single-family homes, hospitality and health care spaces, but also in the world’s tallest buildings.