Rebuilding the house for the future

We always enjoy reading articles by the recognised Sydney Morning Herald columnist and architecture critic, Elizabeth Farrelly. This week we were thrilled to find she was discussing modular housing (and had mentioned the former architect-scientist-builder trio at Jigsaw Housing, now Light House) in her thought-provoking article Rebuilding the house for the future: Australia could lead the way.

Farrelly discusses why housing manufacture, and the design and building industries, have remained somewhat stagnant when in all other aspects of our lives we are constantly experiencing advances in technology.

Governments blame developers for the backwardness of the housing industry and developers, in turn, blame the market. The very magnitude of the investment, it is argued, makes buyers risk averse… Together, this produces a contradiction. The market pretends to be a Darwinian process, throwing up innovation as liberally as reproduction throws up genetic error, and with the same diversity-enhancing effect. But in housing, the reality is the opposite. The very mechanism we depend on for diversity, selection and progress actually ensures stagnation.

Prefabricated and modular housing has certainly been on the architectural radar over the last century, however these innovative concepts are still only on the fringes and yet to have a significant impact on the housing industry. The article suggests “striving for a design edge” is what gives Australian modular/prefabricated housing a step up compared to previous attempts overseas.

Australian architecture is beginning an evolution: developing alternative housing models that are not only more advanced in terms of construction efficiency, but that also promote small, comfortable, customised, sustainable homes that cost far less to produce than most regular architect-designed houses.

Elizabeth Farrelly also wrote an interesting article last month, on a more communal approach to living; Why we need to become village people again.