Prefabricated Homes

Integration of computational design tools in the design
and production of prefabricated homes

Robert Doe
A thesis submitted to fulfil requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning,
The University of Sydney

This research by Robert Doe makes the case that integrated computational design tools, combined with better strategies for prefabrication, can exploit synergies to improve the quality of homes in Australia. This should be of significant interest to educators and architects progressively challenged by implementation of these new tools, by questions of design authorship and by the desire to take concepts to realisation seamlessly.

These complex uncertainties prompt an additional aim of this study – to orient architectural discourse, in education and practice, towards demands for better, more effective design tools focussed on the integrated making of projects through a streamlined process that links all participants.

The case for integration is reinforced by a methodology directed towards:

  • Exposing the complementarity of computational design tools integrated with prefabricated home assembly through literature review and case study precedents, in Australia and internationally.

  • Demonstrating, through the implementation of three live projects aligned to funded research streams, that computational design tools are synergetic with prefabrication utilising modular design methods, and that integration of these tools and methods leads to better quality homes. The methodology includes reporting the findings of this research utilising Herbert Simon’s ‘science of design’ (Simon 1996, p. 111) and Donald Schön’s ‘reflection-in-action’ (Schön 2008, p. 85).

  • Proposing an Integrated Modelling approach to assist with identification of the intensity of integration of computational design and production methods and tools, to provide a brief for the toolmakers, and to support improvements to integration of the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) sector’s operations and systems.

This research aims to make an original contribution to better understanding of the symbiosis between computational design tools and the design and making of prefabricated homes. It is a relationship which promotes credible and realisable outcomes because it embraces the constraints imposed by the logic of design and production processes as they exist today.

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