“We liked that the event takes a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary approach towards discussing the value, potential and challenges facing offsite manufacturing.” Architecture Now magazine’s review of CoLab sets the tone for much of the positive feedback on the event. Architects Patrick Loo and Claire Natusch wrote that CoLab was “a conference looking to provide discourse, provocation and solutions to challenge the status quo within New Zealand’s construction industry.”
COLAB 2019 OVERVIEW
Day One CoLab site visits involved direct interaction with product manufacturing, multi-unit residential in progress, and completed architectural housing projects. Three bus-loads successfully tackled the Auckland city traffic to end with networking drinks downtown.
Day Two CoLab was a nutritional alphabet soup of social housing procurement, financial banking break-throughs, international examples of industry-university-government collaboration, inspirational design approaches, and continuing central government assurance.
The Hon. Jenny Salesa, Minister for Building and Construction, spoke on issues of workforce capacity and capability. “We know that we need to grow the numbers of people and skill levels to meet New Zealanders growing housing and infrastructure needs. Procurement and pipeline management, which means breaking away from the race to the bottom.”
“We are thinking about the long term picture and whole-of-life, improved regulations and consenting, so that our regulatory system can better support and enable a healthy and productive sector; risk balancing so that risk sits with the party to best manage it while also improving.”
“We are thinking about the long term picture and whole-of-life, improved regulations and consenting, so that our regulatory system can better support and enable a healthy and productive sector; risk balancing so that risk sits with the party to best manage it while also improving.” The Hon. Jenny Salesa, NZ Minister for Building and Construction.
Day Three focused on Members with World-café style tabletop conversations with keynote speakers and guests, followed by an interactive workshop with perennial CoLab favourite, Prof. James Murray-Parkes. He imbued the attendees with inspiration, awe, appreciation, and plenty of chortles.
There is a plethora of take-away moments from James, with a stand-out being his keyword ‘complementarity’.
“It’s about using the right materials, using the right people as proper compositions and working together as a team. When you employ your people… you think about it, hold on a second, what do we really need here? You build your team like a composition… we make sure the interface between that composition is 100% complimentary, called complementarity – your goal is complementarity”.
COLAB 2019 HIGHLIGHTS
Several New Zealand launches debuted at CoLab 2019, including the work of two Summer Student Scholars from Victoria University of Wellington. Ji Jeon produced 12 immaculately crafted scale models of the finalists for the SNUG ‘a home in my backyard’ design competition. Eleni Timotei produced 25 case studies on prefabrication projects across a range of materials, typologies and scales – a dozen which were bound into a limited-edition ‘How to Prefab’ publication available exclusively to CoLab attendees.
Westpac bank launched its Prebuilt prefabricated home financing solution to enable offsite construction of complete homes to be financed just like a traditional home mortgage.
More international speaker highlights included the collaborative cross government-industry-academia work of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre as explained by Lucy Black, as well as insight into cutting-edge United Kingdom projects with Aecom’s Joyce Ferng, and Australian architectural exemplars with Craig Chatman of ARKit.
CoLab 2019 impact
One attendee summed up the CoLab spirit as “camaraderie, community and collegiality”. This ideal of community and collaboration rippled through to Q&A with Mark Fraser from Homes Land Communities (HLC). Another commented, “CoLab has inspired me to seek out like-minded individuals for my next professional adventure. I am not alone!”■
Pamela Bell, PrefabNZ CEO