Future of Making Series: Architecture, Assembled

News | 04.08.2017

The D-process, as it is called, begins in the firm’s East London studio. Just as with many architects, designers using building information modeling (BIM) software create a 3D digital model of the home according to the customer’s budget, site specifications, and design preferences. At Facit, though, the homes are made not from 2x4s and other standard parts, but from a system of precisely designed components that the firm itself makes using the latest fabrication tools.

Construction gets underway after a shipping container with a CNC router—a computer-controlled cutting machine—arrives at the site. The design is downloaded to the router, and the machine mills raw wood panels into modular building blocks for the frame, roof, and other components. (Metal stairs and some other complex pieces are manufactured at Facit and brought to the site.) The router etches a part number into each modular block to guide builders as they assemble the pieces, Lego-like, using large rubber mallets to connect the joints and nail modules into place. In a final step, windows and kitchen and bathroom fixtures are added. Everything fits snugly into place because the router has accurately carved out the right locations for sockets, ducts, light switches, and electric cables.

D-Process resembles the assembly line of a contemporary manufacturing facility in which everything is derived from a single digital model. Like an iPhone, BMW, or jetliner, each Facit home is bolted together in a highly controlled, fluid system. “We believe in manufacturing, and so does the customer because they want the reassurance that every part will be perfect,” says Bruce Bell, who cofounded Facit Homes in 2009 and is an industrial designer by training. “That is what contemporary manufacturing does; we applied that to building homes.”