The Legacies of Manufacturing and Factories of Industrialised Construction


  • Rachel Couper Future Building Initiative, Monash University, Australia
  • Duncan Maxwell Future Building Initiative, Monash University, Australia
  • Mathew Aitchison Future Building Initiative, Monash University, Australia



The term ‘industrialised construction’ carries the promise of an industry transformed, an industry driven by improved processes and higher quality products. One of the more obvious differences between industrialised construction and traditional construction is the factory. Yet it is often undervalued as a secondary consideration to the seemingly more important factors of speed, efficiency and economic rationalisation. This paper offers a reconsideration of the history of the factory as a critical feature in shaping contemporary sites of production in the construction industry. While the manufacturing mega-factories of today continue to develop at a rapid rate, their composition has been shaped by all three previous industrial revolutions and the current fourth. Drawing on the legacies of mechanisation, mass production and automation, today’s factory is informed by ideas of lean and agile production, and the connected factory forecast by Industry 4.0 looks towards the internet, cloud and IoT in visions of the future. By charting the evolution of the preceding three phases of industry in relation to key architectural developments of the factory, this paper reflects upon which aspects of these earlier chapters of manufacturing have affected the implementation of Industry 4.0 in the industrialised construction sector. Research in this area has often asked what the production sites of industrialised construction can learn from contemporary manufacturing, such as the automotive, aerospace or technology industries. By contrast, this paper questions the how the potential requirements of industrialised construction might differ from other forms of manufacturing and how this might in turn inform future sites of production in this sector. This paper speculates that a contemporary industrialised construction industry would be wise to re-evaluate the factory as a space specific to construction, distinct from manufacturing origins, in order to better address the broad range of new, or previously under-considered, industry specific requirements.