While researching international prefabrication, I came across some of the most remarkable houses I’ve ever seen. Prefab is still a growing phenomenon in the United States, but it is more mainstream in other countries around the world. The numbers are much more impressive in European countries, such as in Sweden, where about 84% of houses are built using prefabricated elements and Germany at about 20%. In Japan more than 15% of houses are built in factories.
There are several reasons for the discrepancy. Construction in a factory, in a protected environment and with sophisticated equipment, helps to create a more energy efficient house. Since heating and cooling is more expensive in many countries around the world, building efficiently is a priority. Many homeowners are building their homes to Passive House standard (first originating in Germany) as a means of being ensured they will be getting a very efficient and comfortable house. This standard focuses on the efficiency of the building envelope and interior health of the structure. With this reduction in energy consumption, the environment is also the beneficiary.
In addition to the concern for energy efficiency, there is also a priority put on the duration of construction, the quality and cost – all an advantage with prefab construction.
I found amazing houses in all areas of the world.
One of my favorite houses is in Austrialia. The Elsternwick house designed, manufactured, and set by Modscape was built using modular, structural insulated panels (SIPs) and a steel frame. It is the only company I have found that builds modular with SIPS walls, and a steel frame. They deliver their homes almost 100 percent in tact, with shelving, appliances, lighting, water systems, flooring, heating and cooling, cabinetry and so on. This 2626 square foot house was delivered to a lot that was just 24½ feet wide. The house was completed and the family was able to move in in just 3 weeks; with the house lifted over the many power lines and set in two days.
The Energy Neutral House in Amsterdam, Netherlands was completed in just seven months, with a panelized system. It is energy-neutral, meaning it creates as much energy as it uses.The house is designed with lots of innovative materials – Cross-Laminated timber (CLT), shou-sugi-ban (a method of searing the wood to to preserve the wood and make it resistant to fire, rot and pests) and more innovations. Most materials used in its construction can be recycled if the house is someday dismantled. This house was Passive House certified (called Passief Huis in Switzerland).
Another unique house in Japan is EDDI’S House, made of concrete panels. Architect Edward Suzuki says “This is the first case of an industrialized house in Japan, designed by an architect and built by a major housing manufacturer, Daiwa House Kougyo, in a collaborative effort.” This house is a model home, but the company has already built over 300 similar homes in Japan.
No matter how unfavorable the surroundings may be, the house can function comfortably within the mini-cosmos of its own boundaries. Should the outside conditions be favorable where the house is being set, additional openings to the outside can be added.
The Cliff House in Bavaria, Germany, with a prefabricated timber frame and panelized system has the most beautiful views, looking up at an ancient fortress. This is in accordance with the Energy Conservation Ordinance adopted by the Federal Cabinet in Germany in 2009 that requires primary energy demand (the calculated amount of energy that is emitted) to be less than 55 kWhper square meter of area of the house.
These houses around the world are all energy efficient, beautiful and prefabricated.