Gov­ern­ment mil­lions for pre­fab­ri­cated multi-storey hous­ing

Australasian Timber - - CLT -

FROM HOMES that can be un­folded and as­sem­bled with­out ma­chin­ery to car­bon pos­i­tive mod­u­lar houses and con­tem­po­rary beach shacks, the pre­fab mar­ket in Aus­tralia is look­ing ex­cit­ing, sus­tain­able and beau­ti­ful. Source: Gov­ern­ment News

While multi-storey build­ings have usu­ally grabbed less at­ten­tion in the pre­fab space, at­ten­tion to larger hous­ing so­lu­tions is gath­er­ing mo­men­tum. Now the Univer­sity of Syd­ney and con­struc­tion heavy­weight Lendlease have been awarded a $3 mil­lion Com­mon­wealth gov­ern­ment grant to re­search pre-fab­ri­cated multi-storey hous­ing.

The five-year in­dus­try-led pro­ject, bankrolled by the De­part­ment of In­dus­try, In­no­va­tion and Sci­ence’s Co­op­er­a­tive Re­search Cen­tre Projects (CRC-P) pro­gram, will de­sign and build pro­to­type hous­ing us­ing high-tech re­new­able ma­te­ri­als and use cut­ting edge man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods.

Pre­fab build­ings are not a new idea. The Ro­man’s used some pre­fab­ri­cated el­e­ments to build parts of their forts from around AD43 when they con­quered Bri­tain and pre­fab hous­ing was trans­ported to the Bri­tish colonies from the first quar­ter of the 17th cen­tury, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia.

Pre­fab hous­ing is prob­a­bly most fa­mously linked to pro­vid­ing homes and em­ploy­ment for sol­diers re­turn­ing after World Wars and keep­ing up with the baby boom.

It is not a new area for Lendlease ei­ther. The com­pany al­ready has ex­pe­ri­ence in the pre­fab­ri­cat­ing high-rise build­ings and has a West­ern Syd­ney fac­tory where it man­u­fac­tures the Cross Lam­i­nated Tim­ber (CLT) used in pre­fabs as part of its De­signMake busi­ness.

The com­pany de­signed and built the world’s tallest pre­fab­ri­cated tim­ber build­ing, Forte, in 2013. The 32.17m tall build­ing (10 storeys) in Mel­bourne Dock­lands is made from CLT. It has a five green star as built rat­ing and in­cludes sus­tain­abil­ity fea­tures, in­clud­ing rain­wa­ter tanks, car shar­ing and en­ergy ef­fi­cient light­ing and ap­pli­ances.

It also sold well and was oc­cu­pied quickly, a re­sult which Lendlease will no doubt be ea­ger to repli­cate in its new pro­ject.

Pre­fab­ri­ca­tion is also es­sen­tial to Lendlease’s gate­way pro­ject at Baranga­roo, where it will de­sign and build a six-storey com­mer­cial build­ing to­tally from tim­ber – called In­ter­na­tional House Syd­ney.

The new re­search pro­ject with Syd­ney Univer­sity deep­ens its com­mit­ment to pre­fab build­ings and sus­tain­abil­ity.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Lendlease Prop­erty, Kylie Rampa, said the de­mand for af­ford­able and in­no­va­tive hous­ing meant the build­ing in­dus­try had to come up with imag­i­na­tive, new hous­ing so­lu­tions.

“We aim to bring to mar­ket an in­no­va­tive hous­ing sys­tem that is de­sign-led, which will help ad­dress af­ford­abil­ity is­sues, while de­vel­op­ing ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nolo­gies and tech­niques for fu­ture hous­ing con­struc­tion,” Rampa said.

As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Mathew Aitchi­son at Syd­ney Univer­sity’s Fac­ulty of Ar­chi­tec­ture, De­sign and Plan­ning, said the pro­ject was a great op­por­tu­nity to spear­head in­no­va­tion in the res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion mar­ket, which had re­mained largely static in the last 100 years.

“We will fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing multi-storey pro­to­type houses that can be adapted for man­u­fac­ture and cus­tomised pro­ject to pro­ject,” Prof Aitchi­son said. “At the same time, we are look­ing at ways to re­duce risk and waste, while in­creas­ing the ef­fi­ciency, safety, qual­ity, sus­tain­abil­ity and di­ver­sity of mar­ket-ready hous­ing.

“De­spite ma­jor ad­vances in other man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors, in­no­va­tion in res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion is lag­ging,” Prof Aitchi­son said. “This pro­ject seeks to drive ef­fi­ciency and safety ben­e­fits and boost Aus­tralia’s com­pet­i­tive­ness in­ter­na­tion­ally, where we have seen a no­table in­crease in ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing in build­ing over the past decade.”

The aim is to de­velop a range of so­lu­tions for the multi-storey hous­ing mar­ket that an­swer the twin calls of in­creas­ing ur­ban den­sity and the de­mands of the res­i­den­tial mar­ket.

Rampa said the new jobs, skills and tech­nolo­gies would be cre­ated through the pro­ject, which would also open up ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties “for pre­fab­ri­cated hous­ing to meet the so­phis­ti­cated needs of home­buy­ers and builders.”

The re­search pro­ject brings to­gether in­dus­try lead­ers in Aus­tralian hous­ing and con­struc­tion in­clud­ing Lendlease and the Univer­sity of Syd­ney’s In­no­va­tion in Ap­plied De­sign Lab, lo­cated in the Fac­ulty of Ar­chi­tec­ture, De­sign and Plan­ning.

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