On a recent tour of prefabricated housing plant Japan – I was fascinated by the sophistication of the construction industry throughout the Japanese modular home designs factory inhabited by robots – home trundling along assembly lines – house assembly technicians. This is a real wow moment – like building in Australia is still strong in the realm of tradition – people in utes are still the foundation of our industry. As some commentators in Australia expect the manufactured housing industry can soften the blow appeared to leave the automotive industry – Japan indicate future lean manufacturing is established and sophisticated. But the results – in design and social terms – is also a kind of dystopia. The idea of factory-built house has a long history punctuated by a stream of commercial failure in the West.
On the contrary – many Japanese modular homes companies have made prefab homework. Our delegation visited four of the most successful manufacturer Sekisui House – Sekisui Heim – Misawa Home and Daiwa home. As we move beyond the initial effects – some more boring reality began to set in the industry One of the central claims of those who have supported the case for a variety of factory-built housing in the past has been the promise of a better quality. Lower cost Japanese style prefab homes recently – the ability to adjust one’s home – without forgoing the advantages of mass production price. In Japan – the sales team of each company vigorously insist build their systems 100% customizable and can be tailored to customer needs. But to the casual observer home produced looks very much the same – regardless of which company makes them. Room dimensions can be changed – the footprint of the building can be fitted to different sites within a certain tolerance – and finishes and fixtures can be changed. But the overall Japanese prefab home for narrow areas – appearance remains the same: the interpretation of the western suburbs of generic house – clad in ceramic tiles with very predictable color palette ranging from brown to beige.