A prefabricated house can be compared to buying clothes off the rack instead of having them made to order. The various elements of a house — nearly always made of wood — are cut to specifications in factories. These are then assembled, sometimes within days, at a building site.
But the notion that “prefab homes” are cheaply made and are cookie-cutter solutions for low-end buyers is changing. In the past decade, prefab houses have become more diverse and individualized. They lead the industry in terms of energy efficiency, ecologically sound building techniques, and technical advances.
And now, thanks in part to some star architects, they are improving their image in terms of design as well. In the past few years, architects such as Gustav Peichl, Matteo Thun and Frank Gehry have turned their hand to designing “off the rack” houses, with surprising results.
Still, only 13 percent of homes in Germany are prefab, while 70 to 90 percent of newly constructed homes in design-sensitive Scandanavia are prefab.