We need to reimagine our current model of housing construction. 

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the perfect storm of imperfect zoning laws, low construction productivity, and population increases have created housing shortages and price escalation that make it impossible for many families to find decent and affordable homes. And this is not just a Bay Area issue, lack of affordable housing is a challenge worldwide. It’s one of the key capacity challenges we’ve highlighted where technology and new processes can create new opportunities for doing things better.

Our global population is expected to grow by nearly 30 percent in the next 30 years, closing in on 10 billion people by 2050. With 75 percent expected to live in cities, we need to build more housing quickly and within the fundamental limitations of the planet. 13,000 buildings per day will need to be built to accommodate this rapid growth. We need to support companies implementing innovative solutions to this growing problem. 

Autodesk is doing just that. Today we announced our investment in Factory_OS, a company that is dramatically improving the way to design and build housing that is more affordable.

Factory_OS is constructing multi-family housing through an industrialized construction model. They are bringing the construction job site to the manufacturing shop floor, delivering housing units that are constructed 40 percent faster, 20 percent less expensive and with 70 percent less waste than traditional units from on-site construction.   

While modular housing itself isn’t a new concept, a recent report from McKinsey & Company acknowledges we’re at a point where technology is making it a more viable solution. We know the impact industrialized construction can have and are impressed with how Factory_OS is changing the game. With this strategic investment, Autodesk is supporting the build out of Factory_OS’ Factory Floor Learning Center, a space dedicated to education and research on industrialized construction and changes needed in public policy to optimize its benefits. This work will be led by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation. The investment also establishes a team to scope and plan for a new Rapid Response Factory, a factory setting using state-of-the-art factory automations to meet the demand of quick turnaround housing following natural disasters and emergencies. Building on Factory_OS’ existing use of our tools, we’ll work together to identify new software collaborations to streamline the design, fabrication, and supply chain management of offsite construction.

Factory_OS was started with scalability in mind,” said Rick Holliday, CEO, Factory_OS. “Changing the way housing is built requires an evolution in everything from how workers are trained to the methods used in order to ensure increased productivity and therefore lower costs and time-to-market. We believe our model can help create real impact in the Bay Area and beyond and Autodesk’s investment helps make this even more of a reality.”   

The factory environment is also transforming the career path for construction jobs by eliminating the need for multi-year training before entering the field. Factory_OS works with both the local carpenters union and workers from other fields who may have no experience in the construction industry. They provide end-to-end training in the full spectrum of the industrialized construction process taking place within factory walls. In addition to on-site reskilling opportunities, the work is steadier and comes with competitive wages, vacation time, predictable schedules, and shorter commutes. Sixty percent of its factory workers were not previously employed in the construction field.   

“I grew up nearby Factory_OS’ headquarters, becoming a waitress right after high school. After 15 years of working in local establishments around the area, I was interested in entering a new field. The training taking place right here on Mare Island in Vallejo has provided me with new types of skills and opportunity at a time when what I’m helping to build is in desperate need. I love playing a role in making more affordable homes for others in this area,” said Kimberly Nettles, Contruction Change Agent, Factory_OS.

To meet increasing demand, we must make more housing and make it better. This is a massive challenge, but it’s also the biggest opportunity the construction industry has ever had. I’m personally excited to partner with Factory_OS to accelerate industrialized and modular construction and dramatically improve the way homes are designed and built.

Read more about this announcement.