The Ever-changing façade of Offsite Construction

New elements are continually being added to the spectrum of offsite construction, it’s pretty hard to keep up.

Factory-built complete homes, fully fitted apartment and hotel modules captured a lot of the attention early on. And rightly so, as they represented a dramatically different way of achieving the ultimate build, with reduced construction time on site being a major player. These ‘volumetric’ manufactured buildings continue to provide a range of attractive options with ever increasing design appeal and refinement of construction.

Engineered timber products like Glulam, LVL, and cross laminated timber (CLT) provide exciting new design opportunities, as do the recent changes to the national construction code which now allows timber structures up to 25 metres (eight stories). XLam has announced that next year it will open Australia’s first CLT manufacturing plant in Wodonga Victoria (for clarity, the Lend Lease Design Make factory in Sydney transforms imported CLT blanks into precision cut elements for rapid installation at site.)

Panelised systems is another active area – think flat pack buildings. These range from floor cassettes to complete systems of floor, wall and roof panels. This is more in the style of the Swedish panel systems used in around 80 per cent of their housing. More and more of the European automated panel making equipment is being installed in Australia, so we can look forward to hearing much more about the advantages that these technologies bring.

This all adds up to an exciting array of prefabrication options. And more importantly, these new options are being successfully implemented. Demonstrating this, in the last month there were two topping out ceremonies of breakthrough projects. 

One of these was International House at Sydney’s Barangaroo – an eight-level commercial building made from CLT and Glulam sourced from Europe and wrapped in a glass façade.

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