Studio leader: Laura Harper

Multi-residential construction continues to rely on labour intensive on-site processing despite advances in prefabrication. The industry standard approach to internal walls is either masonry (block/brick walls), or a multi-layer wall systems with a timber or light gauge steel frame – both options are clad with plasterboard. Some challenges of this approach include significant waste (estimated industry average is 18% plasterboard waste during installation), quality issues with acoustic, insulation and fire-rating performance, and the single-use nature of these multi-trade assemblies which means if walls need to change they must be demolished. From a design perspective, the reliance on plasterboard creates generic interiors devoid of material or structural expression and creates a market expectation of monolithic spaces which are fixed and do not adapt over time.

This studio investigates a different approach to the design of walls and residential construction. Drawing on the varied and amazing structural, tectonic and performative characteristics of materials, to consider the benefits and limitations of prefabrication over on-site construction, exploring modularity as well as customisation, and factor in the life-time value of products from origins to re-use or recycling.

The Urbanism of Walls

Image by Masters of Architecture students: Ayden Fiore, Matthew Smith, Daryl Neff, Taylar Stanton
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