20 shades of beige: lessons from Japanese prefab housing

20 shades of beige: lessons from japanese prefab housing
Sekisui House, a prefab display house at the Shizuoka Factory, Japan

The idea of the factory-made house has a long history punctuated by a steady stream of commercial failure in the West. By contrast, many Japanese companies have made prefab housing work.

Our delegation visited four of the most successful manufacturers: Sekisui House, Sekisui Heim, Misawa Homes and Daiwa House. As we moved beyond the initial wow-effect, some of the more prosaic realities of the industry began to set in.

One of the central claims of those who have variously supported the case for factory-made housing in the past has been the promise of better quality, lower costs, and – more recently – the ability to customise one’s house, without forgoing the price advantage of mass production.

In Japan, each company’s sales team vehemently insisted their building systems were “100% customisable” and could be tailored to the customer’s every need. But to the casual observer the resulting houses look very much the same, irrespective of which company made them.[]

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.

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