What happened: Amazon Alexa Fund and Obvious Ventures invested $6.7m Series A for Plant Prefab—a modular prefab home builder.
Who is Plant? They’re an LA-based modular, prefab builder focused on high end, single-family and low-rise multifamily homes. They build mostly in wood and have a strong eco-bent and fondness for connected homes.
Why Plant? One, there’s growing interest in modular and prefab in general, made most evident by the somewhat recent SoftBank-led investment in Katerra, as well as other investments in the last couple years like FullStack Modular, Kasita, and Blokable.
But according to Plant CEO Steve Glenn, the investment has a lot to do with providing Amazon a testing ground for their connected devices. He told Fast Company, “We will work with Amazon to integrate Alexa and other smart home technology they have into our standard home platforms…[and] working with them to create better integrated Alexa and other smart home technology solutions to help improve the quality of life and utility of people who live in the homes we build.” Continue reading “Alexa, build me a house”
Interest in modular construction is exploding. Modular factors into Katerra’s product offerings. Google is working modular into their Quayside master plan and has commissioned 300 modular units from upstart Factory OS, bound for employee housing in Silicon Valley. And a handful of interesting companies are moving into the space. Now the city of NY wants to go modular. The city’s Modular NYC RFI and RFEIs are looking specifically at modular solutions to help meet De Blasio’s Housing New York 2.0’s ambitions for creating and/or preserving 300k affordable housing units by 2026.
The “I” in the RFI is a brain-dump from “market participants,” explicating how modular will work in a variety of multifamily settings throughout the boroughs. The RFEI “invites expressions of interest for modular affordable housing construction on private sites within the five boroughs,” with the aim of expediting “the pre-development process” for successful RFEI respondents. These preliminary steps will be shortly followed by an RFP for a project built on city lands. Continue reading “NYC gets mod complex”
Silicon Valley-based construction tech company Katerra announced a SoftBank-lead $865M Series D.
It’s common knowledge the construction industry is FUBAR. It’s second to last in terms of labor productivity of all major industries; it’s one of the least digitized major industries, spending <1% of revenue on R&D; and “large projects across asset classes typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are up to 80 percent over budget,” according to McKinsey. Look no further than Denver’s unfinished VA hospital that’s gone $1 B (B as in boy) over budget as a case-in-point.
Continue reading “Katerra: Construction’s $865 million question?”
Robbie Antonio is a Filipino self-portrait collector, Trump friend, and real estate mogul (or the scion of one…not clear). He’s also the dude behind Revolution Pre-crafted Properties, a company offering design-y prefab homes that can supposedly be shipped anywhere in the world. Their portfolio features designs from starchitectural offices such as Libeskind Design and that of Jean Nouvel.
RRP is now getting in the city-building business with a development called “Batulao Artscapes.” BA will be “The World’s First Livable Art Park” (we know how many people want to live in art parks).
BA sits on 346 acres 50 miles outside Manilla away from any coasts. It will, according to CNN, feature “12 different styles of [factory-built] home[s] set across four ‘villages.’….residents can choose from prefabs designed by notable creatives, from artist David Salle to the musician-turned-interior-designer Lenny Kravitz.”
So far as we know, this is the largest prefab development ever conceived. The project’s ambitions are only matched by the number of unanswered questions we have: ones like who, in a country with a per capita GDP of $3K, is going to buy funky modernist homes costing $50K-$1M (USD) set Florida-retirement-community-style in the middle of a jungle?
With a completion date said to be in 2020, our questions may soon be answered.