$3m funding boost for prefab housing research

The University of Sydney and developer Lend Lease has received a $3-million grant from the Australian federal government to research solutions for prefabricated multi-storey housing.

The funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) program will be used to develop multi-storey housing prototypes that use high-tech renewable materials and advanced manufacturing processes.

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The five-year industry-led project is intended to help the housing industry innovate. Construction techniques in the residential market have been unchanged in the last 100 years.

“Despite major advances in other manufacturing sectors, innovation in residential construction is lagging. This project seeks to drive efficiency and safety benefits and boost Australia’s competitiveness internationally, where we have seen a notable increase in advanced manufacturing in building over the past decade,” said Mathew Aitchison, associate professor in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney.

“We will focus on developing multi-storey prototype houses that can be adapted for manufacture and customised project to project,” he continued. “At the same time, we are looking at ways to reduce risk and waste, while increasing the efficiency, safety, quality, sustainability and diversity of market-ready housing.”

Industry partner Lend Lease said the issue of housing affordability is fuelling the drive to find new housing solutions.

Kylie Rampa, CEO of Lend Lease Property said, “We aim to bring to market an innovative housing system that is design-led, which will help address affordability issues, while developing advanced manufacturing technologies and techniques for future housing construction.”

In May 2015, a Senate Economics Reference Committee report on affordable housing found that construction costs are a significant factor contributing to the lack of affordability. The report recommended a separate senate inquiry into prefabricated housing “and its potential role in improving affordability and stimulating the manufacturing sector.”

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At the same time, the Australian Research Council granted $4 million in funding to set up a new Australian Research Council Training Centre for Advanced Manufacturing in Prefabricated Housing based at the University of Melbourne. The centre is a collaboration between University of Melbourne, Curtin University of Technology, University of Sydney, Monash University and nine industry partner organizations.

In July 2016, the University of Melbourne and Speedpanel Australia received a $3 million grant from the federal government, through the CRC-P program, to research and develop innovative prefabricated building systems.

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