Once viewed with disdain as a post-­war architectural quick fix, prefab is fast becoming the way of the future, creating new spaces with an incredible turnaround time and sound economic savings without sacrificing quality.

Hayball, one of Australia’s foremost architecture, urban planning and interior design practices, is a leading light in the new prefabrication movement.

The Urban Developer chats to director David Tweedie, with years of architectural experience in both Australia and the UK, and get his insider’s expertise.

What role is prefabrication playing in transforming our built environment?

Prefabrication is one powerful approach to address the issue of escalating construction costs without compromising quality and incorporating new technologies. Labour cost rates in highly developed economies such as ours challenge the affordability of traditional, trade-based construction. Availability of highly skilled labour is scarce and expensive. Once you combine that with industrial risks and the weather impacts of on-site work, you begin to realise the potential exists to divert skills from the declining manufacturing sector towards off-site construction.

How is prefabrication influencing Hayball’s approach to design/construction?

Hayball has increased our up front investment in thinking and research, moving towards a component-based approach to design. Rather than relying on late involvement of trades, we’re working in more collaborative procurement models with constructors to bring forward the development of resolved solutions. The globalisation of construction supplies incentivises the use of high-quality components to assemble buildings.

When did Hayball begin experimenting with prefabrication?

We’ve been experimenting with component-based design over the last ten years, but in terms of wholesale prefabricated elements, it’s been about four years.

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