New Prefab Tech : Digital Housing Design


Last week news broke about ‘The Digital House‘, by British architect Bell Travers Willson and Facit – a newly proposed type of prefab that breaks away from the typical ‘box’ design. Every aspect of the house, from joists to stud walls to the holes for pipes and wires were modeled digitally by the designers. This information is then sent to a CNC router, which cuts out the various pieces from engineered lumber – which are then assembled into the different house components, such as stud walls, etc.


In order to showcase their new design/construction concepts to the media and public, Willson and Facit built a full scale model of a section of the project – showing not only the simplicity and elegance of the design of the components, but also how easy they are to assemble.

The project actually reminds me of one of those cardboard buildings from history books for little kids, where you fold the pieces into boxes, etc., and insert the little tabs in the provided slots to hold the whole thing together…


News of The Digital House reminded me of a project I read about in Metropolis a few months ago [December, to be exact] – Burst* by SYSTEMarchitects. Similar to The Digital House, Burst* is a prefab project created through intensely detail oriented design, where each individual piece of the house was first modeled and optimized both structurally and aesthetically. The pieces are then cut from plywood with a CNC router, numbered or tagged somehow, and shipped to the site – where I believe students helped the designers assemble the final building.


This method of design and construction allowed for a level of individuality in the project not normally seen in prefab work. Moving away from the idea of the typical aforementioned ‘box’ design, these new prefabs could be designed, and then cut for reasonable prices – maybe even leaving consumers with the choice of having a contractor come assemble the house, or getting everything in a do-it-yourself kit IKEA style.



Whatever the final assembly options may be, the end product could revolutionize the way we design homes. Not only does it open up a market for possibly inexpensive individually designed homes, but the construction process itself is vastly improved. One of the world’s major sources of waste is the construction industry, whether it be temporary scaffolding materials or building leftovers – and these digitally manufactured prefabs remove a huge amount of that waste from the equation by sending all the house components to the site ready for assembly. Almost no scraps, not mis-cut pieces of lumber – just exactly what the project calls for.



More on The Digital House over at Treehugger [one of the Treehugger massive shot some photos of the construction].

More on Burst* at Metropolis

Posted: March 19th, 2007
at 12:34pm by orangemenace

Categories: architecture,pre-fab,green arch,housing,tech

Comments: 1 comment


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  1. those are so cool looking i love them, i want to have a house like that one day



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