Prefabricated homes have been available for years and date back at least a century. The Sears Roebuck index made and offered prefab homes to the public as early as 1908, and Prefab was later explored by famous twentieth-century architects, such as, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, Frank Lloyd Wright, who saw the method as a likely solution to the dilemma of housing in modern society. Â Interest in Prefab grew in the first half of the twentieth-century, with the outburst of manufacturing expertise and the creation of the assembly line.
Historically the mention of prefabricated houses invokes memories of housing built to cover in the temporary a deficiency of housing in the UK following the World Wars.
The Government promised â€˜homes fit for heroesâ€™, however, negative public attitudes surfaced towards prefabricated housing because of substandard building materials used and poor workmanship.
A staggering 1 million of these homes were built during the 20th century and more than half a century on, many are still standing despite no foundations. Â A few are listed while others have been demolished.
Today people remember the shabby mobile classrooms as in, bitter cold in winter and like an oven in summer. Â Therefore, memories have rendered the concept of prefabricated houses an unattractive idea. Â Talk about the term prefabricated housing to an architect, and their eyes will beam with visions of fascinating contemporary homes. Â However, talk to the ordinary person on the street and people immediately think that we are going down the same path, a pretty hard image to shake off. Â The very factors that are presented as positive advantages of prefabricated homes became liabilities in the eyes of homeowners who wanted a durable appreciating asset.
An example can be found by looking at the prefabricated houses on Catford estate built by German and Italian prisoners of war in 1946.
â€˜They were not built to last and need regular maintenance. Â They are just large sheds really and taking up a lot of space. Â They should really be demolished.â€™ Â (Drake 2008)
Over the ten years, Lewisham Council has tried to develop the site many times and a review Â Â found none of the dwellings met Decent Homes Standard.
So why do more and more developers Â choose prefabricated construction?
First and foremost â€” Speed. “It may Â take a bit longer in terms of design, Â preparation and planning but site based Â activities are taking up to 30% Â less time and allowing homes to Â reach the market sooner. Other Â reasons cited include, in order of Â preference:
- Design Quality
- Previous Experience
Source: Design and Modern Methods of Â Construction. The Housing Corporation Â and CABE 2004″
Bridge House (Example)
Croydon Vision 2020 Â is a regeneration programme by the Â London Borough of Croydon Â for the centre of Â Croydon Â in Â South London. Â The Old Town Masterplan focused on the area between the High Street and Roman Way, one of the oldest areas of Croydon.
Formerly the site of a telephone exchange, Bridge House is Â a Â£20 million Â development that has provided 27 private Â and 48 affordable apartments, above Â ground and mezzanine retail spaces.
The block wraps around an existing Â multi-storey car park and offers the Â opportunity for cafs and shops to Â open onto the new square. A mix of Â green and brown roofs, to support Â biodiversity, form part of a series of Â environmental measures and the Â scheme is to be of modular Â construction.
The Croydon Â chose the modular Â approach principally because of the Â speed of construction offered. The Â project began on site in the spring Â of 2006 and the Â 75 flats were Â stated to have been erected in Â approximately 26 days, vastly Â outperforming the time taken by Â traditional construction.
Client: Howard Holdings plc
Structures: Walsh Associates
Principal Supplier: MC First