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newsletter 01
7 October 2003

Welcome to the first fabprefab e-newsletter. Our aim with these periodic updates is to keep you informed of developments in modernist prefab.
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1. OA-SYS: A Systems approach.

In this issue we take a look at OA-SYS (Open Architecture System), which is a collaboration between the Austrian Architect Oskar Leo Kaufmann and the modern timber construction company Berlinger Holzbau, based in Vorarlberg, Austria.

OA-SYS is a complete modular prefab system. The suite of defined components can be combined in numerous ways to create a range of structures. This ‘systems approach’ is somewhat akin to Lego in its flexibility although the modular elements are completed panels and ‘planes’ rather than building blocks.

If custom architecture is like à la carte dining, then a system like OA-SYS is a buffet (and fixed-design modular kits are a fixed menu). OA-SYS provides an array of elements that can be mixed and matched into a design that meets the needs of the client.

One benefit this systems mode of prefab has over fixed-design modular kits is that some economies of scale in production can be realized while still allowing for design flexibility. You get kit economy without kit homogeneity.

The process of designing and constructing a building can appear somewhat arcane to the uninitiated. Design possibilities and process complexities can be disconcerting for a first-time client. One cited promise of prefab is that it has the potential to demystify or simplify some of the process. In this sense OA-SYS is understandable: at a basic level everyone can comprehend that floor + walls + roof = volume. OA-SYS offers program simplicity without being technically simplistic in execution.

We are presenting, exclusively for fabprefab readers, a translation into English of the German language web site This translation reflects OA-SYS web site content as of October 1 2003. Hopefully the OA-SYS site will remain unchanged for at least a while…

A system like OA-SYS is technically capable of supporting 3rd party modules (add-ons/plug-ins) from multiple vendors. Is encouraging participation from other vendors a defined strategy for the vendor, Berlinger Holzbau? Also what is the plan for marketing this system? Will the vendor use a network of 'system-certified' architects as a 'solutions delivery channel' (much like the Value Added Reseller model in the business software market)? These questions and more will be addressed in an upcoming newsletter which will feature comments from the vendor Berlinger Holzbau.

We invite your comments on this system in the fabchat area. You will see a forum titled "Newsletter 01" under the "Newsletter Forum" category.Please share your thoughts on OA-SYS and this mode of systems prefab.

2. Recently added or updated projects.
The following projects were recently added or had their information/links/status updated. Each link below will open in this window so you will need to come back to fabnews to see this list again. (We hope to migrate to a new searchable project database in the next couple of months...)

026 - Loftcube by Werner Aisslinger
013 - LV Home by Rocio Romero - this prefab is now available for purchase.
038 - Small house by Bauart Architekten for WeberHaus

030 - oa.sys by Oskar Leo Kaufmann
031 - Glidehouse by Michelle Kaufmann/mkarchitecture
032 - Drumpoint Experimental House by Alastair Reilly
033 - The VW House by nottoscale
034 - Qubico house by Stefan Lindfors for Kotini
035 - Beach House by Resolution: 4 Architecure
036 - SU-SI by KFN Systems/Oskar Leo Kaufmann
037 - Bankside Lofts by First Penthouse
039 - MD 120 by Edgar Blazona
080 - MD 44 by Edgar Blazona
091 - up! house by Konyk Architecture

057 - PRO/con by Jones Partners.
058 - Contained mobility by Chrissie Beavis
059 - MDU by LOT-EK
Note: The web sites for LOT/EK and PRO/con have recently undergone major upgrades. (Projects 057 and 059)

3. Recently published relevant articles.
- Hugh Pearman recently published an article at his Gabion web site: Creative Lego: are prefabricated homes architecture or building?
- Hugh also has an older article on the m-house: The house as trailer: inside Tim Pyne's M-house.
- The Dallas Fort Worth Star-Tribune recently ran an article on KRDB in Austin. The article includes a reference to
- In mid-September Newsweek ran an article on the re-emergence of prefab.
- CNNMoney also ran this article on emerging prefab projects.

4. Calendar items.
LOT-EK's MDU project (059) is currently on display at University Art Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara until December 7. Info here

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