While prefab has yet to make its mark on mainstream Australian construction, rapidly-growing Silicon Valley prefab construction company Katerra will soon be heading down under, as it prepares to share its technology insights with locals.
Founded in 2015 by a group of real estate and electronics chiefs, Katerra will be touring across Australia’s eastern seaboard from 2-5 July, in an event series designed to demonstrate the full potential of prefab technology and a fully integrated supply chain for leaders in architecture, engineering, construction and government.
Globally, adoption of prefabricated technology in commercial construction segment has been increasing, with the North American commercial construction market expected to grow at an annual rate of 9.2 per cent between 2017 and 2021, to reach a market size of US$457 billion.
In Australia, the sector is expected to grow at 5 per cent per annum to 2023, compared to a growth rate of 2.3 per cent for the industry as a whole.
In line with this growth, Katerra has achieved significant growth in a short period of time, with the company currently valued at $4 billion.
By disrupting the construction industry through the integration of design, component manufacturing, and site assembly under its digital platform, Katerra has established a strong pipeline of future work and current projects.
Ultimately, Katerra’s vision is to increase productivity, decrease costs, and increase affordability to the end consumer, with a current focus on projects in the residential and commercial sectors.
In 2018, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia’s National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP) and Housing Program, in line with Saudi Vision 2030, a blueprint for the economic growth of the Gulf nation.
The memorandum will see Katerra produce 50,000 housing units a year from six to eight new factories, creating 15,000 jobs.
The secrets to Katerra’s rapid growth and success will be shared by Dr Forest Flager, who will provide Australian audiences in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with intimate insights into the company’s strategic approach.
Flager, who holds a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford, a Master of Design from Harvard’s GSD, and a MEng in Structural Engineering from MIT, will be joined by internationally-acclaimed design technology specialist Randy Deutsch, a highly sought-after expert in the field.
Deutsch will guide the audience through the impact of emerging technology trends such as generative design, automation, AI, and machine learning on professional services in the built environment.
The tour is being coordinated by global think tank, the Design Futures Council (DFC), under the guidance of managing director Alexia Lidas, who explained the reasons behind the tour.
“Knowing the Katerra story, we were very keen to provide insights for local audiences into how the built environment is being disrupted globally,” she said.
“The rapid transformation taking place in the built environment is being heavily driven by the utilisation of technology to increase productivity across the value chain – a topic DFC is very interested in.
“Our organisation exists to help built environment leaders run better businesses and plan for the future, and as such, bringing global experts such as Forest and Randy to Australia is a no brainer for us.”
Lidas confirmed that fabrication will play a major role in future opportunities for the industry.
“Specialists from outside the built environment industry are capitalising on current inefficiencies in our industry, and there is a risk in not being aware of the changes afoot.
“For many dealing with the day-to-day running of a business, it's a luxury to take time out and turn the focus towards thinking strategically.
“This is why we have designed this tour as an eye-opener for disruption, but equally for opportunity, with pragmatic advice for businesses on how to start better using technology immediately.”
Transcend: breaking new ground in the built environment – a public lecture series across Australia.
First Movers: a leadership summit on Applied Innovation and Technology
Sydney – 2-3 July
An intimate 1.5-day exploration of the implications and opportunities for technology in the built environment, this event is strictly for CEOs, Principals, and Directors and will feature Katerra, Randy Deutsch, Centre for Modern Construction, UBER, Fast Brick Robotics, Hyperloop, Brickworks and more.
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