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Can We Build Homes the Same Way We Build Cars?

While the current crisis caused by the global coronavirus pandemic has demanded our attention in recent months, there are two crises that have been rapidly developing in recent years. If left unaddressed, we will likely see human suffering on an even larger scale than we have during the current situation.

Of course, we’re talking about the dual threat of climate change and affordable housing. Climate change has the potential to cause millions of deaths over the next 10-30 years, while also costing hundreds of billions of dollars a year in damage, healthcare costs, and other related costs. This issue has been front and center in the public eye for decades, and rightfully so.

Affordable housing is perhaps a much quieter, but just as challenging a crisis. Partially brought on by the 2008 global recession, affordable housing around the world—but particularly in the United States and Europe—is in decline. The issue is a complex mix of local and regional economics, rising rental costs, demographic shifts, immigration, and other challenges.

These two challenges are perhaps surprisingly intertwined. The worse climate change gets, the greater the economic consequences. And the greater the cost of climate change, the more difficult it will be for individuals and families to afford decent quality housing. What’s more, with the Earth’s population projected to tip past 10 billion people in the next 80 years, the housing requirements are going to be immense. Not only will it be necessary to develop housing for our planet’s booming population, but that development must also be environmentally sustainable.

… And that’s where prefab housing can be the solution to both these challenges.

The concept of prefab housing is not new; in fact, it’s been around for centuries. But in the contemporary era, prefab housing has been associated with poorly made tract homes and suburban McMansions. They’re often seen as unattractive and overly uniform. But using design and technology, we can make create housing that’s affordable, sustainable, attractive, and comfortable.

Pascal Navaud, President of “La Maison Abordable” says: “We believe that this is a necessary revolution in construction, which could take a lesson from the auto industry. The auto industry used technology to dramatically improve car construction efficiency, making vehicle safer and more advanced. And while car prices have generally dropped while still improving performance, the opposite has been true in construction.”+

How car manufacturers have done this?

The answer is quite simple: Create a base and then add mass customization in terms of body style, color, features, etc. It is not difficult to translate this idea to housing development. We can cross-fertilize our deep experience in car manufacturing and architecture to provide a scalable solution that can be sustainable, budget-conscious, and still fully customizable with high quality standards.

What’s more, lifestyles are rapidly changing thanks to technology, social distancing, and shifts in priorities, and we can develop housing that responds to their needs of comfort and community. We can use artificial intelligence to gather and analyze data on structures that people really want, enjoy, and make use of, and translate that into both design and integrated services. Just like many contemporary vehicles come with.

subscriptions to digital services (music, GPS, etc.), we can create homes that seamlessly incorporate digital services and automations that make life easier and more enjoyable. And because units are all prefabbed, we can quickly and easily customize them to the occupant’s most pressing needs and desires.

In short, we can imagine a whole new business model without sacrificing quality, affordability, desirability, or the environment. Leveraging on Pininfarina’s experiencee in revolutionizing sports car designs in starting from the Forties, applying the same approach, Pininfarina can design a new generation of homes aligned to future generations’ needs and expectations of a connected and sustainable lifestyle.

Looking forward to talk further about your dreamed experience and offer a Pininfarina design to it.

David Carvalho – SVP Experience Design & Industrial Design – Pininfarina

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