Author(s): Pamela Bell & Mark Southcombe
Until recently New Zealanders thought of prefabs as drab, cheap, temporary, poorly designed school classrooms. Prefab houses tended to be thought of as cheap, small, relocatable, standard homes. However, today's prefab home is design rich, high-quality and readily customised to individual sites and needs. It is likely to be state of the art, an innovative blend of architecture, design, manufacturing and construction. This book documents and contextualises a history of kiwi prefabrication, our prefab architecture, its present state, some prefab characters and characteristics, and emerging and possible prefab futures. The book documents key prefab challenges and accomplishments, and some emerging prefab potentials. For example, the story of IBS, (Industrialised Building Systems) is a story of a NZ project that came close to revolutionising the house building industry in Australasia. By the late Roger Hay, one of the IBS founding team members, it is published in this book for the first time. Essays by international academics Barry Bergdoll, Peggy Deamer and Brenda Vale give a wider context for the discussion the book initiates. Barry Bergdoll, the Philip Johnson Curator in Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York reflects on the landmark exhibition Home Delivery; Fabricating the Modern Dwelling he curated at MoMA in 2008. Peggy Deamer, a principal of Deamer Architects New York and professor of architecture at Yale University, gives a theoretical context for a contemporary re-evaluation of prefabrication. It rethinks the onsite/offsite opposition between traditional and prefabricated building practices and astutely posits a reversal of some long held prejudices against off site design and fabrication. Professor Brenda Vale of Victoria University of Wellington is an international architect, pioneer researcher, writer and expert in sustainable housing. Her essay contextualises the claims for sustainability of prefab housing, arguing there are relatively small potential contributions towards the design of a sustainable house that prefabricated construction is able to make. Sections of the book written by Pamela Bell (CEO of PrefabNZ) are an augmentation of her original Master's research and make up the body of the text. The first section is a prefab primer; a technical commentary that sets out key prefabrication typologies and clarifies some prefab language. Essays by architect and senior lecturer - architecture at Victoria University of Wellington, Mark Southcombe explores Digitally Fabricated Futures.