Lessons from Sweden: How Australia Can Learn from Swedish Industrialised Building

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Over the past decade, Australia has witnessed increased interest in industrialised building, particularly in the production of housing. This has happened under many different banners, including: prefabricated, modular, transportable and offsite construction methodologies. This interest has grown from a combination of factors, including: increased rate of housing construction and density; rising property and construction costs; the desire for increased efficiency and
productivity; and a concern for the quality and sustainability of building systems. Historically, Australia has played an episodic role in the emergence of prefab and transportable buildings since the colonial era, but it does not have a longstanding industrialised building industry. In this context, an analysis of the experiences of North American, European and Japanese examples, provides
valuable insights. This paper focuses on Sweden’s approach to industrialised building and the lessons it holds for the emerging Australian sector.
Sweden represents a valuable case study because of similarities between the two countries, including: the high standard of living, cost of labour, and design and quality expectations; along with geographic and demographic similarities. Conversely, stark differences between the national situation also co-exist, notably climate, business approaches, political outlook, and cultural factors.
In the 1950s, Swedish companies exported prefab houses to Australia to combat the Post-War housing shortage, which also supplies a historical dimension to the comparison. Most importantly, Sweden boasts a longstanding industrialised building industry, both in terms of practice and theory.
This paper will survey and compare the Swedish industry, and its potential relevance for Australia. Areas of discussion include: the relationship between industry and academy (practice and theory); the diversity of technique and methodologies and how they may be adapted; platform thinking (technical and operational); the staged industrialisation of conventional practices; and the
importance of a socially, environmental and design-led practice of building.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2016 Modular and Offsite Construction (MOC) Summit
Place of PublicationAlberta, Canada
PublisherUniversity of Alberta
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventModular and Offsite Construction Summit 2016 - Edmonton, Canada
Duration: 29 Sept 20161 Oct 2016


ConferenceModular and Offsite Construction Summit 2016
Internet address


  • Sweden
  • Australia
  • industrialised house building
  • international case study

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