The future starts now.
Where is the future going to take us? New Zealand’s new government has set out to build significantly more homes for Kiwis, which means the construction industry is going to have to deliver. We all know that building houses the traditional way is not the answer to this problem - and that prefabrication is going to be one answer that will have to work on a massive scale, building new homes. But we will also need to think different, to come up with new ways to build better, faster, smarter. It is at the intersection of industry and academia that these issues are being put to the test.
First Light Studio and Victoria University are two places that are keenly tackling those issues. First Light has developed a modular and panellised system for their building projects, to speed up construction on site, available now. Wall panels can be delivered to site with windows already installed under factory conditions. It’s sensible and it works every day, right now.
At Victoria University’s School of Architecture, students are testing the future. Two of the current final year Architecture students, Mitch Holden and Ged Finch, are working with Guy Marriage on their final thesis projects, creating some really interesting work. Mitch is working on a prefabricated housing system based on a series of modular interlocking wall panels that simply clip together to form a new house. It is based on research into the Industrialised Building System of the 1970s, and Mitch is making sure that his new system can be made to work on houses large or small.
Meanwhile, fellow student Ged Finch is having the time of his life with his system, based around a series of strong plywood members that simply clip together - with no nails, glue, or screws needed. Ged succeeded in winning funding from the NZ Institute of Building’s Charitable Trust in order to build a ‘proof of concept’ structure, and this X-frame has been installed in the centre of the atrium at the School of Architecture. After testing it to the rigours of student life, it will be pulled apart, transported to a testing facility and reassembled, where the team will see if they can test it to the point of destruction. It’s far removed from NZS3604, but the question remains - is it the future? Or just one of many possible futures? Excited? We are!