This New Rapid Response Factory Will Build Post-Disaster Housing

FactoryOS is teaming up with Autodesk to use an assembly line to get housing to the people who need it.

Jul 29, 2019


This New Rapid Response Factory Will Build Post-Disaster Housing | FactoryOS is teaming up with Autodesk to use an assembly line to get housing to the people who need it.

There's no place like home. That's why after a natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane, getting people immediate shelter is the first step. Getting them back into a real home that they can call their own is a very important second one.

Now, a new rapid response factory is being built to be able to rehome people as quickly as possible. The center will develop a version of an assembly line – like the way cars are manufactured – that will do everything from laying a floor to installing appliances while still in the factory site.

This is what FactoryOS does now for building apartments. The company that is now two years old can build four to six apartments a day. With the new Rapid Response factory, that will be increased to 12 to 16 a day according to Fast Company.

“We started FactoryOS almost two years ago to the day,” the company's founder Rick Holliday told Fast Company. “And during those two years, we’ve had three of the worst fires in California history.” He received calls asking if the company could help build shelters, but they didn't have the capacity to take on extra work, and they only worked on apartment units, not small single-family homes. But the question at the time was why not?

Now the rapid response factory is being set up to do disaster relief building. “Job one is going to be to try to create a plan for a standardized unit and a more automated factory—sort of like building Model T’s or Volkswagens—a simple standardized unit that could be widely accessible at a really good price,” said Holliday.

The company's costs are now 30 percent less than traditional onsite construction, but that is expected to change to 50 percent less by early 2020.

FactoryOS will be working with Autodesk – a design software company who's moto is 'design can change the world' – to track the social impact metrics of this construction from the cost to reducing the carbon footprint of the new dwellings.

Autodesk previously worked with a disaster housing company called Better Shelter (from IKEA) but working with a company that produces modular housing is opening a new can of worms. They will also be working with the Terner Center on policy to navigate the bureaucratic red tape.

This type of emergency housing is critical as climate change makes disasters far more common. “I think there’s absolutely a lot of space to innovate in the disaster shelter arena,” said Joe Speicher, executive director at the Autodesk Foundation. “There’s not enough innovation in this space. There’s a lot of one-off, interesting proof of concepts that occur. But really nothing that’s systematic.”

When the next disaster happens, we need to be much better prepared, and companies like FactoryOS can provide the solution to getting people back into permanent housing as quickly as possible. After all, there really is no place like home.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.