Prefab 21


  • Deakin University School of Architecture and Built Environment
  • FormFlow
  • Samaritan House Geelong


Prefab 21 is a partnership between Deakin University School of Architecture and Built Environment, FormFlow and Samaritan House, a shelter for homeless men, that focuses on the design and fabrication of a prototype house based on new technologies developed by FormFlow at Deakin ManuFutures. This design/build project designed by Deakin Architecture students working collaboratively with FormFlow as builder and Samaritan House as client, to produce a prototype prefabricated Independent Living Unit (ILU). This transdisciplinary project was accomplished in design studio and workshop sessions that designed, documented and built an ILU and created a microvillage of seven ILU’s at Samaritan House.

Key Features


The design developed during a process that included research into historical and contemporary approaches into prefabrication and synthesizing this knowledge into a real-world design/build project. We provided a prefabricated system design that is materially innovative and satisfies the client needs. Students provided design and documentation for the prefabricated system as part of a collaborative design and construction team that emulated professional design process, interacting with builders and clients to realise the project. The functionality, form and sustainability goals that developed for the project directed the outcome of a unique exterior shape that has passive high performance at its core.


With Prefab 21 we demonstrate that this design addresses fundamental social needs in a way that is both ecologically and economically sustainable, access to beautiful and functional sustainable housing. The Prefab 21 team integrated the project goals of providing shelter and addressing Australia`s housing affordability crisis; providing solutions for reducing the carbon footprint of future homes (during the build and lifetime of a house); the reduction of waste by the application of industry 4.0, lean manufacturing principles and prefabrication and the reduction of waste and carbon footprint via modular design for reuse and the application of recycled/recyclable materials – circular economy.


Prefab 21 explores the next generation of the design and manufacturing of houses for the 21st Century. The design tests the future of manufacturing creating through sustainable, smart and efficient advanced manufacturing. The students design demonstrated FormFlow’s unique material technology and prefabrication modular construction is ideal for social housing. Industry and University collaboration and research is an opportunity to question and test new experiments in an effective way. This project demonstrates a model for more design/build transdisciplinary projects that can transform how we teach students, embracing an experimental and experiential making culture and engaging our communities in a positive way


Samaritan House Geelong has a vision to provide crisis accommodation and work alongside their guests to transition to a better and stable future. This Independent Living Unit project, this first of its kind in our region, provides homeless men an opportunity to experience self – sufficiency via affordable rent in supported accommodation for a nominated period, with the aim of transitioning to their own independent Public or Private Housing, thus breaking the homeless cycle. The interactive process of developing this new housing type included investigation into sustainability, user experience and social/economic awareness of providing transitional housing for the homeless.


The design process for this project included reviews with a number of stakeholders. HOME, the Deakin University-wide research group with a goal of providing a home for all and Sustainability Geelong both participated. This dramatically broadened the input on the project and contributed to its success.

This project is the catalyst for successful grants from both the City and State to build the microvillage, ensuring that the Geelong region has the support needed to meet current challenges around homelessness. The impact of this prototype is extensive by providing a new typology for transitional homeless accommodation and jobs in the region

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