Prefabrication potential: On the edge between academia and industry
Authors: Bell, Pamela
ABSTRACT: A recent Master of Architecture thesis on prefabricated housing in New Zealand found
that research and development (R&D) are key areas for future emphasis. R&D can potentially benefit
from tertiary institutions working in collaboration with the design and construction industry. This edge
between academia and industry is where prefab’s potential lies.
This paper aims to identify, investigate and highlight attempts at collaborative relationships between
tertiary institutions and the design and construction industry in New Zealand. It begins by looking at
international precedents of design-and-build studios teaching through the medium of prefabrication,
before it looks at New Zealand case studies of research: industry collaborations.
Case studies from New Zealand’s three architecture schools at Auckland University, Unitec and
Victoria University of Wellington are documented. Issues and opportunities around these collaborative
relationships between tertiary and industry sectors are summarised. The role of communication is
discussed, leading to the introduction of the industry organisation PrefabNZ and the national prefab
exhibition. The paper concludes by encouraging an increase in collaboration between academia and