September 2013 Newsletter

prefabAUS News

Welcome to our first Newsletter! This is a very exciting time for us as we welcome new members, share news about what’s happening in our Industry both at home and abroad, and collectively embrace the prefabAUS mission.

Special thanks go to members Scott Hedges, David Chandler and Valerie Lyon for their content research and articles, and we welcome future contributions from our growing membership base.


Laurus Wing Student Housing, Canberra Architect: Architectus, Builder: Hutchison Builders, Modules: Quick Smart Homes

prefabAUS out and about

prefabAUS had its first industry outing at the 2013 Modular Construction & Prefabrication Summit in Brisbane on the 23/24 July.

prefabAUS Members David Chandler and Valerie Lyon share their reflections on the impact of the event and the launch of prefabAUS.


Little Hero Apartments, Melbourne Architect: Fender Katsalidis, Manufacturer: Unitised Building

prefabAUS advocating for greater prefab uptake

Advocating for a greater uptake of off-site construction is central to the prefabAUS mission.  PrefabAUS was interviewed as part of the research that informed The Green’s Australian Fast-Build Prefab Housing Policy.

We will continue to advocate on behalf of the Industry at both State and Federal Government level to highlight the impact that a strong Australian prefabricated building Industry will have on local growth and jobs.


A view of Fertighaus Welt, Munich, Germany.
Photo by Jan Gyrn

prefabAUS goes to Germany

prefabAUS Board Member Jan Gyrn shares reflections from his recent trip to Germany where he saw firsthand how their local building prefabrication industry is inspiring local consumers with their innovative display villages.

prefabAUS reviewing new design guidelines for bathroom modules

Livable Housing Australia is developing new design guidelines that are focused on factory built bathroom modules to support people of all ages and physical abilities.

They are inviting feedback from prefabAUS Members by mid-October so please email us if you wish to participate in the review of the draft guidelines.

Some events for the diary


Property Council of Australia
WA's Capital Works Pipeline
Perth, 27 September 2013, 12:30 – 2:00PM


Australian Sustainability Conference and Exhibition
Melbourne, 9-10 October 2013

PrefabAUS Melbourne Welcome Event
Melbourne, 17 October 2013, 6:00 – 7:30PM

Property Council of Australia
Retirement Living Summit

Melbourne, 24 -25 October 2013

National Housing Conference Australia 2013
A new way home

Adelaide, 30 October – 1 November


Sydney Architecture Festival 2013
Robotised Architecture
Sydney, 06 November 2013, 6:00 - 8:00 PM

View the full prefabAUS Events program here.

Australia News

There is an increasing acceptance of building prefabrication in Australia, and the interest in modular homes is on the rise in the media. This acceptance of building prefabrication is also growing across the Industry

On August 29, Brisbane based PanelBuild was recognised in the “product” category for demonstrating their commitment to sustainability from their assembly process in the factory through to the building site.

WoodEXPO 2013 was recently hosted in Albury Wodonga, and you can read an interesting overview of the eventhere

Congratulations to the team at The University of Queensland and their Industry partners on being awarded one of the highly competitive Australian Research Council grants to explore and prototype next generation prefabricated timber housing technologies.

And congratulations to Team UOW Australia, a partnership between the University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra, who have won the Solar Decathlon China 2013 competition. They retrofitted an archetypal post-war fibro home, showing a way forward for the upgrading of similar Australian properties. Competition rules required the home to be flat-packed, shipped to China for the judging process, and assembled within 15 days. These projects show the innovative potential of prefab collaborations between Industry and research institutions.

The theme of collaboration was reinforced by the recent presentation by Dr Keith Hampson, CEO of Australia’s Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre, in his Keynote Speech at the 7th Nordic Conference on Construction Economics and Organization on 14 June 2013 at NTNU, Trondheim, Norway.

As part of the University of Melbourne’s 2013 Dean’s Lecture Series, Gregg Pasquarelli, founding partner of SHoP Architects presented his lecture ‘Out of Practice’ which included discussion of some of the most ambitious and interesting prefabrication projects that his innovative of New York based practice is working on. 

And for more inspiration from Germany, an Australia / New Zealand delegation will land in Germany on 29 November for a study tour of panelised prefabrication firms, led by the Christchurch based Johann Betz who runs the eponymous consultancy, and focused on bringing lessons from the European prefabrication industry to the Australian and New Zealand context. We look forward to hearing back from the participating PrefabAUS members about their experiences and observations from this expedition.


PrefabNZ News

prefabAUS and PrefabNZ transforming prefab

PrefabNZ  is the hub for prebuilt construction in New Zealand –

- A catalyst for prefab collaboration,

- A front-door-portal for prefab information,

- An incubator for prefab innovation

PrefabNZ is thrilled to be working alongside prefabAUS on building strong regional prefabricated building industries and we look forward to continuing the great relationships that we established at our inaugural conference in March 2013. Please feel free to get in

Learn more about our HIVE Home Innovation Village that was a timely response in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Check out the PrefabNZ September 2013 Newsletter here 

International News

At 27.5metres in height, Canada’s Wood Innovation and Design Centre might not be as tall as Lend Lease’s Forteproject in Melbourne, but this project designed by award winning Canadian architect Michael Green is certainly helping place prefab timber construction technologies on the global map.

Construction is well underway on the B2 project in Brooklyn, New York designed by Shop Architects.  Skanska USA and FCRC are manufacturing the modular components of the 32-story residential tower going up in New York, the tallest modular building in the world. They are building the modules in a 100,000 square foot space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. A quote from Real Estate Weekly: “We are also building a new industry that has potential to become New York City’s newest export, a product and process that can transform how construction is done in this century.”

As part of UK company Portakabin’s pan-European strategy, they have recently purchased OECON Mobilraum.  OECON currently offers six different product families, from standard container solutions to high finish modular structure solutions.

Modular construction companies that once did only simple projects now can assemble complex equipment complete with instrumentation and electrical, mechanical, and ventilation systems thanks to advances in engineering software.  “Every single bolt and screw is noted in the computer.  As a result, you can visualize how those things work on modules that are far denser than before”, says Joseph Sigelman, CEO, who calls AG&P’s model “IPO,” or industrial process outsourcing.

And finally, an August 2013 publication presenting research findings and case studies from CIB Task Group 85 members from 14 different countries that looks at the role and impact of R&D on national development by presenting an interesting overview of many different research initiatives, including some focused on prefabrication, which are influencing the construction industry in Australia and globally.

International events for the diary


San Antonio, USA
2013 Building Component Manufacturers Conference    
8-9 October 2013

Denver, USA
8-9 October 2013


Houston, USA
Modular Construction, Prefabrication & Logistics Summit
9-11 December 2013

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
International Wood Construction Conference (IHF2013)
4-6 December 2013

View the full prefabAUS Events program here.

Last Word

We have all loved the videos of the Broad Group's 30 storey tower being assembled in 15 days. The Broad Group is even more ambitious with its Sky City project in Changsha, and at 220 stories it would be the world's tallest prefabricated building. Since the July 2013 ground-breaking ceremony, the controversial project has been put on hold however we hope to hear news of advancement soon.

Do you like the banner image? We took this photo at the 'Kiwi Prefab: Cottage to Cutting Edge' exhibition at Puke Ariki, New Plymouth in March 2013.