The Industrial Revolution was a time of great social, economic and political upheaval. It was a time of mass production, of transforming the manufacturing process into a repetitious system. Never before had the process been so streamlined, especially in the steel industry. A Darby Bridge could be easily constructed using a set of manufactured pieces developed from the same mold.
As the method began to be perfected, many other products came to be made via mass-production, most notably the automobile. This was called the assembly line and it was first incorporated very successfully at the Ford Motor Company. The year the automobile began to be mass-produced was 1908. The house still has not been able to be reliably mass-produced, although no good reason exists as to why not.
There is hope for the pre-fabricated house. Shipping containers are beginning to be refurbished and factory fitted to one another. This has the potential to make a cheap yet attractive architecture. Shipping container houses have the potential to be very cheap because the main structure is already taken care of, therefore it can be adapted any way one sees fit. The architectural element can be pre-fabricated in a lab and then shipped via semi-truck; as easy as if they had not been refurbished.
There is also another way. One can print a full-scale house in the same way that 3-D printers print model houses. The information for the house would be sent to a machine that would print a house out of concrete the same way that slip-form construction works.
The pre-fab rehabbed shipping containers and the printable house are two ways that the architecture can be mass-produced while still allowing for customization. The structural engineer is only needed to assess connection points in the case of the shipping container and to digitally test the computer models for printing.
Why hasn’t the house been widely pre-fabricated/mass-produced? What sort of business model is necessary for the successful implementation of slip-form print construction?
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