When evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision, our thinking is often strongly influenced by what is personally most relevant, recent or vivid. If people truly understood their chances of winning the lottery, many would never buy a ticket. But being regularly reminded of those lucky winners gives an undue self-assurance that next time "it could be you".
"A change of mindset would enable us to generate creative solutions"
Offsite manufacturing's perceived association with architecturally constrained design is a symptom of its historical brief, namely its use as a temporary-housing solution to address the post-Second World War housing shortage.
This readily recalled strategy has led to the enduring misconception that prefabrication equates to uninspiring design.
The stigma remains sufficiently common that the House of Lords felt the need to ask: "Can the benefits of standardisation and factory manufacture be realised without hampering architectural ambition? If so, how?"
By identifying instances in which this particular bias appears, we can attempt to introduce more balanced thinking on the issue. It is also useful to recall recent examples of offsite manufacturing empowering architectural design.
Aim to stimulate and engage
Often, we are unaware of the use of manufactured components in projects. A review of buildings shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize since 2011 reveals that both traditional and modern methods of construction, including component-led and manufactured solutions, have been awarded.
This change of mindset would enable us to generate opportunities to realise creative solutions that could be delivered with less waste, improved quality and increased safety.
Offsite manufacturing has the capacity to be an enabler for complex geometries (such as Zaha Hadid Architects' One Thousand Museum in Miami) and facilitate, not inhibit, architectural ambition.