Prefabrication Technology: Friend or Foe?

This opinion article is in no way discriminatory against statutory boards such as HDB and BCA. I am simply sharing my opinion on the Prefabrication Technology utilised over the years.

Prefabrication Technology has undoubtedly been Housing Development Board (HDB)’s open secret to building a high-rise residential unit in Singapore over the years. 

To put it simply, Prefabrication Technology creates numerous walls that form a module (room) and these rooms are stacked onto one another, floor after floor, and eventually forms the iconic HDB home.

For Building & Construction Authority (BCA), a similar system called the Advanced Precast Concrete System (APCS) has been utilised in their projects. It is no surprise that these two statutory boards under the Ministry of National Development share a similar construction technique that boasts an overwhelming list of advantages:

  1. Ease of on-site assembly
  2. Improved Productivity
  3. Shorter floor cycle
  4. Improved quality control

As obtained from the Design for Manufacturing and Assembly Database from BCA

When analysing these benefits, it is clear that APCS mainly reduces the time and cost in a single project and for statutory boards for the government, this presents an opportunity to maximise profits. The silver lining behind APCS is its improved quality control- with every precast concrete inspected before being stacked onto an existing layer.

But what cost do all these benefits bring?

Are we losing the value of our homes to Prefabrication Technology? 

Are our homes no longer unique?

With set plans and layouts for every HDB home readily available on their website, are the layouts of our homes limited to the moulds utilised in their Prefabrication Technology? With this, a 1-room flat or even a 5-room flat in Pasir Ris can be similar or arguably identical to another in Boon Lay.

No doubt Singapore provides its citizens with affordable housing at a quick construction turnover rate. Many of my peers are in fact, eagerly waiting to receive the keys to their new Build-to-Order (BTO) homes with the excitement coming from just being able to afford and own a home in Singapore.

But I intend to look beyond the ownership of a home and share my views on this perennial debate. No doubt Prefabrication Technology should still be employed when building walls or rooms with a specified spacial requirement such as a household shelter. But when it comes to designing the communal spaces or the flow of its layout, we should break free from repeated plans. 

Break free from the norm. 

Because in fact, the prospect of owning a unique home- a space that truly represents who you are, certainly glows and invites me to look beyond just the ownership of a house. And instead, choose a space that I can be happy in, look forward to spending my time in and live my best life.

References:
– Prefabrication Technology
– Advanced Precast Concreate System (APCS)
– HDBSpeaks

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