Prefabrication is not a new concept for architects, but its usage is evidently on the rise. With today’s limited spatial capacity and need for cost efficiency, the industrial strategy of architectural production has shifted towards an all-around-efficient approach, in some cases assembling projects in a matter of days or weeks.
Prefabricated wood components, used in both wooden frames and mass timber constructions, have helped solve many design and engineering challenges. In addition to material and time efficiency, reduced waste, and cost control, prefabricated wood elements offer the advantages of high performing and energy-efficient passive designs.
What are offsite prefabricated structures & what is their fabrication-to-installation process?
The practice of prefabricating building elements was first adopted in the United States in the past century. Post World War II, there a need for affordable quality housing which led to a boost in “kit-of-parts buildings”. Nowadays, innovative digital tools are making prefabrication much easier.
The use of prefabricated material provides the developer with a low-priced, sustainable, and efficient project. To be able to carry out the construction in the shortest time possible, reduce maintenance, and avoid waste of material, there must be a defined process of construction, one that respects the architectural approach and integrates all the structure’s facilities. Concise planning standardizes the process of construction and decreases on-site assembling time. In addition, the controlled environment the components are being fabricated in produces high quality and precise material. After fabricating and preparing the wooden components in the workshop, the pieces are sorted, loaded onto trucks, and taken to the site for immediate assembly.
Since the assembling is done off-site, prefabricated projects give clients numerous alternatives to standard residential structures. Each client has the ability to choose a specific design and integrate any service he/she desires. Since wood is a versatile material with several design possibilities, the material provides the client with an array of design selections and finishes.
With prefabricated projects, efficiency is an almost universal advantage. For those who live by the mentality of “time is money”, these structures promise lower construction costs at a quicker schedule. The building foundation can be poured during the time the wood fabrication company is preparing the structure’s components at the workshop. Since the structure is being produced within a factory, the number of technical mistakes is much lower than regular construction projects, saving time on adjustments and redos. In addition to speed, the budget of prefab structures can be easier to meet due to lower redundancies and waste in both material and time. While building components may seem more expensive upfront, the total installed cost after on-site construction is minimized.
The sustainable initiative of these projects stems from their reduced amount of waste, efficient environmental performance, and material versatility, creating a great connection with the outdoors. The biophilic attributes of wood help improve human well-being, as well as promote environmental consciousness.