24 July 2014

Has pre-fab architecture turned a corner?

Lately I have seen more stories on pre-fab architecture as a means for making new and innovative architecture more accessible. But the stories tend to show very stylish homes, sometimes leaning towards vacation homes, like this story on more factory options in Ozy online magazine.

But a subset are closer to the Design Like You Give a Damn school of social innovation, using the increasingly cheaper techniques for lower income alternatives. The new issue of Metropolis looks at how the Chinese are trying to apply the pre-fab innovations from their megacities to building new African urban communities that are safe, solid and more carefully planned than current urban housing. But, it potentially costs African jobs.

As an invention becomes innovation, there is often a moment when it changes social responses and practices. If pre-fab urbanism changes the informal settlement patterns of the urban poor, this trend will have seriously turned a corner.

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