Prefab construction is a godsend for disaster response

Prefabricated construction techniques show promise as long-term solutions for rebuilding disaster zones in remote and rural locations, according to Monash University professor Mehrdad Arashpour.

As long as thought goes into the location of prefab buildings – such as their proximity to water sources – modular, off-site construction can be viable long-term residences in disaster zones, Dr Arashpour told The Fifth Estate.

Prefabricated, self-contained buildings are also sustainable options for short-term disaster relief as they can be continually reused, Dr Arashpour said. In disaster-prone locations, such as Japan, ready-made modules can be built cheaply, stockpiled until needed and then assembled at speed. Japanese prefab company Daiwa Lease, for example, has set up a production line in emerging Asian countries that can divert product to Japan when a disaster happens and homes are needed.

Critically, the modular, panellised nature of prefab construction means that buildings are reconfigurable and easily adapted to be used as temporary schools or medical clinics instead of housing, for example.

Another benefit of prefab buildings is that they can be installed with minimal skills and tools.

Sustainability benefits include a lower carbon footprint and high thermal performance, Dr Arashpour said.

He added that the thermal performance of most modules work best in cool climates, although they can be used in warmer locations.

Most prefab buildings are also easier to recycle because they are quick to dismantle.

Prefabricated construction techniques are finally getting attention after decades of failing to penetrate the industry in any meaningful way.

Dr Arashpour said prefab take-up would become an increasingly attractive option once a more integrated construction, manufacturing and transport process is established.

“We need high-precision manufacturing and this needs to mimicked at site, with the correct dimensions… We haven’t quite nailed the practical implementation.”

Originally Published by The Fifth Estate, continue reading here.

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The Future is Prefabricated

Prefabricated construction is in its infancy but with increasing demand on tradition construction and speed and sustainability benefits of prefabrication, could this new manufacturing industry change the way Australia builds?

The collapse of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry has been devastating, with up to 40,000 workers estimated to ultimately lose their jobs.

Yet with a rapidly growing population and cranes dotting our city skylines, a new manufacturing industry is on the cusp of a boom: prefabricated construction.

Image: article supplied

Researchers at the University of Melbourne are looking at how this burgeoning industry can provide safe, affordable and sustainable housing, while also offering the opportunity for former automotive manufacturing workers to transfer their skills.

The Melbourne School of Engineering is leading a new push to grow the prefabricated sector’s market share within the construction industry from 5 per cent to 15 per cent by 2025, contributing to around 20,000 new jobs and $30 billion of growth. They are supporting this research with large scale testing and training facilities at their recently announced new campus, to be built at Fishermans Bend.

Professor Tuan Ngo, Research Director of the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Advanced Manufacturing in Prefabricated Housing and the Asia-Pacific Research Network for Resilient and Affordable Housing, leads much of this work.

He says Australia has a lot to learn from European countries like Sweden, where prefabricated modular housing makes up 70 per cent of the construction industry.

Extreme weather, in particular long cold winters, can make building outside difficult there, so prefabricated components are created in manufacturing plants instead.

Why prefab in Australia?

Professor Ngo says supply is unable to meet increasing demand in the traditional Australian construction sector. Meanwhile, costs are rising, contributing to the housing affordability crisis affecting many Australians struggling to buy their first homes.

This was originally published by Architecture AU.

Click here to read the entire article.

Realising New Knowledge for Cities From Event Based Legacy – a Gold Coast Case Study

Mr Peter Edwards,  Director, Archipelago & Past President Urban Design Alliance Queensland is a Keynote Speaker at this year’s International Urban Design Conference, discussing “Citymaking games: realising new knowledge for cities from event based legacy – a Gold Coast case study”.

Peter Edwards

Secure your seat today to hear Peter speak!

The base building work for the major legacy of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth GamesTM – the Commonwealth Games Village – is complete.

There is no doubt that this is an important moment in the history of the Gold Coast. Cities are often made from important moments, events that create step change; leaps forward.  On the Gold Coast, we are leveraging the moment using infrastructure as a catalyst to create a step change for the city. Part of that is a platform for a stronger entry into the new knowledge economy, the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct.

This citymaking strategy has been in play for some time with its fruits recently realised. Why now? How? And what should we be doing moving forward? How do we win at the game of making cities through seeing, and seizing, the moment.

A discussion on the potential of event based legacy as a catalyst for new knowledge infrastructure demonstrated through the case study of the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct.

This Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Register for the 2017 International Urban Design Conference here.

 

The Missing Centre, Or (To Put It Another Way), What’s Missing From Our Centres?

Clear your calendar this November for the 10th Urban Design Conference! 

Ms Amy Degenhart, Architect and Director at degenhartSHEDD Architecture and Urban Design joins us to discuss “The missing centre, or (to put it another way), what’s missing from our centres?”.

There is much talk about “The Missing Middle” in relation to the densification of our suburbs, but the conversation about adding density to our urban centres in a manner that encourages diversity, reinforces home ownership, embraces the street, enhances safety and respects community legacy is also largely missing from our current city-building tool kit.

Amy Degenhart

Adopted by many urban dwellers, high rise living is not loved by all, but often serves to create a vacuum in our city centres, challenging housing diversity by alienating first home buyers, owner occupiers, legacy residents and some cultural demographics. Further, both mid and high rise structures also neglect a key affordable domestic construction resources readily available on the Gold Coast…the “nail bag builder”.

Starting life as an exemplar of “Small Lot Housing”, ENVI Micro Urban Village, a 10-micro-lot urban-infill subdivision, was the vision of a partnership between an architect and a planner, inspired by their joint love-or envy-of the terrace housing form found in celebrated cities like Rome, New York, Melbourne, London and Vietnam.

The ENVI story began in 2014, and, as of August 2017, will achieve a milestone through the settlement of its unique freehold urban-infill lots, averaging 60m2 in size and 3.6m in width. As each lot is front-loaded, making the most of every resource, it is not just land area and frontage that denotes the innovation of this project, but it is also the three lots that have no provision for on-site car parking, being instead supported-by, and supportive-of, the new Gold Coast light rail public transport system.

As ENVI houses are now under construction, from the Pico Pod that sits on just 38m2 of land, to the Village Home, designed to rival the suburban dream, this uniquely Gold Coast densification, renewal and innovation story is ripe for the telling.

Be inspired by innovations and projects that are transforming cities. This Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Register for the 2017 International Urban Design Conference here.

Can Money Really Grow On Trees?

Increased leaf canopy cover is linked to a significant increase in property values, according to Green infrastructure: a vital step to brilliant Australian cities.

The report, released by infrastructure firm AECOM, compiled urban data analytics across three different suburbs in Sydney, and found that for every 10 per cent increase in the canopy coverage within the street corridor, the value of properties increased by an average of $50,000.

Annandale’s value increased to $60,761, Blacktown increased to $55,000 and Willoughby climbed to $33,152.

Report co-author and AECOM Cities Leader James Rosenwax said population growth in Sydney had placed enormous pressure on existing critical infrastructure like roads and utilities, but trees were often forgotten or undervalued.

“If we don’t put a financial value on trees there is less incentive to protect them when looking at the cost benefits of new roads, bridges or buildings,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the humble street tree is often in conflict with other forms of infrastructure and development.

“Our report found that without sufficient ‘green infrastructure’ Sydney would be hotter, more polluted and could be worth $50 billion less.”

The value a city derives from its urban trees is difficult to measure due to the disconnect between the beneficiaries and the direct costs borne by the councils, utilities and road authorities who manage them.

The report’s author and AECOM Director Roger Swinbourne said those who didn’t experience or understand a tree’s collective benefits would only perceive its costs such as potential to fall, dropping leaves across lawns, or shading of rooftop solar.

Originally Published by The Urban Developer, continue reading here.