Prefabrication is not a new concept. In fact, its use is
documented as far back as 1624 with a panelized wood house shipped from England
to Massachusetts. Over the next four centuries, as highlighted in the video
from Redshift by Autodesk, “The History of Prefabrication, From Roman Forts to Modern
Modular Housing,” a surprising
number of opportunities for prefabrication have been seized upon in the history
of the modern world. Notable milestones included:
1837 – Portable cottages and
farm buildings were being constructed in England.
1839 – Kit houses were shipped
to California for Gold Rush settlers.
1889 – The Eiffel Tower was finished in preparation for the
World’s Fair. It was assembled in the record speed of two years, two months and
five days from iron elements and prefab components prepared offsite at a
factory on the outskirts of Paris.
1908 – Sears, Roebuck and Company began shipping kit homes and other
buildings. About 75,000 units in 447 different styles were sold at prices
ranging from $443 to $3,506.
1917 – Thomas Edison conceived
of cast-in-place concrete houses.
1919 – Cast-in-place apartment
units were constructed without the need for metal framing in England.
1929 – Prefab housing was used
in the depression-ravaged United States.
1930 – A metal dome house – the Dymaxion – was invented that could be factory manufactured, disassembled
and transported for reassembly onsite.
1936 – The Airstream Clipper, a “luxury home on wheels,” was
developed with what became an iconic silver-bullet shape.
1945 – Prefab houses were mass
produced (sometimes in as little as one day) in Britain to ease the post-WW2
housing crisis. Meant to last at most a decade, some lasted upwards of 70
years. A few were ultimately registered as historic buildings.
1947 – Construction on Levittown
suburban housing developments began, using assembly-line production. They were
built in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Puerto Rico using
rapid construction processes that could achieve a house a day.
1948 – Mobile homes with
bathrooms were in production. Congress approved changing the name from “mobile
home” to “manufactured home” in 1980.
1967 – Habitat 67, one of the architectural pavilions presented
at the World’s Fair in Montreal, consisted of 354 modular units stacked to form
1977 – The Ramot complex in
Israel is a mixed-use development containing shopping, education services,
courtyards, walking paths, parking, and modular dodecahedron apartments. Built
using prefabrication techniques, the apartment complex looks similar to
1996 – BoKlok prefab
sustainable mini-homes were offered in blocks of flats and terraced housing in
Sweden, Norway and Finland.
2003 – LOT-EK mobile
dwelling units with extendable and retractable modules, developed from
converted shipping containers. Units constructed in South Africa, Holland, New
York, California and Arkansas include townhomes, apartments, dormitories,
single-family, and live-work lofts.
2015 – The world’s tallest 3D
printed building, a five-story apartment building in China, was completed using
prefabricated sections made of cement, steel, glass fiber and recycled
2016 – The world’s tallest modular building was completed in New
York. Part of a residential and commercial development, it was described as
“pre-fab apartments that stack like Tetris blocks into a 32-story building.”
2017 – The BIM process was used
to design and build a 500-bed hospital in India at one-quarter of the typical
2018 – Prefab modular apartment
units were being built in an old submarine factory and sold in San Francisco to ease the affordable
With nearly 400 years of
history, prefabrication has been tested and refined over time to the point
where it is a part of the fabric of our construction culture. If your firm is
new to prefab, or if you just need to tighten up your prefab processes, contact
eVolve MEP today to learn how you can innovate your workflows. And
prepare to be amazed.
ATLANTA -- EVOLVE announces a wave of updates to its suite of software for MEP contractors and prefab shops. These updates introduce new features, improved functionality, and bug fixes to enhance users' experience. One of the key updates is the addition of 3D model...