If you are keeping your finger on the pulse, like us you would be noticing that 2011 is ushering in a level of innovation across the board within the construction industry, this appears to be happening mainly out of necessity more than anything. It is coming as a result of rising building costs, availability of trade personnel and the resent Queensland disasters. Industry bodies and multi nationals are pushing for change; companies that produce building materials are embarking on R and D efforts. It is sad that it takes circumstances like this to force change but it seems to be a constant pattern in history i.e. the depression ushering in a renaissance period. WW2 producing the industrial revolution. I believe that by and large change is a good thing.
The holy grail is to successfully provide an alternative to the current 97% of housing stock available to us while at the same time creating an architecture that responds to the issues of time, climate and place with creative relevance, environmentally friendly forms and most of all placing people’s wellbeing back at the forefront that drives innovation.
Unfortunately, when you mention this kind of ‘sustainable’ approach to most developers, builders and homeowner’s automatic barriers tend to go up with main concerns centred around cost of building and the fear of producing an unproven model. What we have to remember is that in the 80’s and 90’s when stick frame construction started to be built with prefabrication in mind the hurdle was to overcome people’s fears and perception, crossing the barriers of construction techniques that were currently used. However over the years this way of building has become the norm. When something new becomes the norm and is widely adopted by the industry, mass production produces cost competition pushing prices down and making systems more affordable.
We are fast arriving at a tipping point where the way we do things has to change both in the way we approach construction and in the mindsets we get comfortable with. Ultimately the buck stops with us. As an industry we have the ability to control the forward progression for a more appropriate future.
For the last 4 years at Bleuscape Design we have been interested in developing a uniquely Australian interpretation of the highly successful European prefab model. I might emphasise that we are proposing only one perspective or interpretation. That is the beauty of architecture there is no one universal floor plan or material, it is limited only by the scope of the clients brief and the budget they have to work with. If you’re any good as a designer this is more than enough scope to create beautiful appropriate solutions.
Prefabrication and modular construction is the answer for the immediate future. It is exciting to see companies placing their money where their mouth is in 2011. Companies such as Bondor, Australia’s largest manufacture of insulated panel systems, they have created one such system; it is called Insulwall. It is Australia’s first sandwich panel that is purely designed for the residential market. www.insulliving.com.au This adopts a systematic and practical approach to assembly. Panels are generally 1200 wide by as long as you want. By creating a holistic building solution from the ground right up to the roof parameters are set for design that create a lean architecture cutting out the fat that makes up much of the bloated homes we currently have available to us today.
We have create a number of examples ranging in solution for sloped sites, single detached housing (in particular adopting Queensland sensibilities), muti-residential, duplex and temporary mining community housing that can have another life after the initial commercial use. Please feel free to have a look at any or all of these examples on our website. www.bleuscape.com.au We welcome any builders, developers and potential clients to contact us and discuss opportunities.