The Australian prefabricated construction industry is set to receive a boost with plans for a new training centre announced this week in Melbourne.

The University of Melbourne has been awarded $4,000,000 to establish The Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Advanced Manufacturing of Prefabricated Housing. 

The centre aims to grow innovation in design whilst creating a co-operative training system between universities and industry leaders. This new venture aims to enable the next generation of engineers and architects within the prefabricated building industry.

The broader Australian construction sector has been limited in recent years through rising costs, low productivity and heavy reliance on traditional building methods. Prefabricated housing embodies many benefits that can be explored and implemented within the Australian housing industry. For example, construction can be up to 90% faster than traditional methods, with costs also reduced by up to 50%. This can reduce transport, labour and site preliminaries by 70% whilst still retaining and maintaining a competitive advantage in global value chains.

This centre aims to support the uptake of modern building methods with the long term goal of alleviating the pressures on a sluggish market via advanced systems that can create automated off-site construction and new assembly techniques.

This is set to grant Australia a more competitive edge. Currently, we lag behind countries in Europe, North America and Asia in the prefabricated building sector. Prefabrication currently holds 3% of the $150 billion Australian construction industry, compared to Sweden where modular housing is roughly 70% of its construction industry. The centre hopes to improve these figures, tripling the Australian market share to 10% in the next 10 years, creating 20,000 new jobs by 2025.

Key projects for the centre will include design development for mass customization, granting insight into how prefabricated housing can achieve both variety and individuality whilst emphasizing an indoor environmental quality and reducing carbon emissions.