The construction of lightweight, prefabricated, quick to install buildings is a logical application for composites, both for low cost permanent structures and emergency shelters.

Startlink houseThey may not be the best-looking homes you'll ever see, but prefabricated composites structures are lightweight and therefore easy to transport and quick to install on site, requiring minimal labour and equipment and therefore lower cost.

Composites are corrosion and weather-resistant, and studies have shown that composite buildings are more energy-efficient than those built using traditional building materials.

Here are four examples:

  • Housing development company Larkfleet Homes has just built a Startlink demonstration house alongside its headquarters in Bourne, UK. The major components used in the house are pultruded glass reinforced composite modules which can be rapidly assembled into a wide variety of low-rise buildings, without metal fastenings. (See Startlink composite house built in UK.)
  • Innovative Composites International Inc (ICI) produces modular homes using composite sandwich panels constructed from glass fibre reinforced polypropylene skins and a honeycomb core. The company has housing projects under development in a number of countries. (See: Innovative Composites to supply EcoScape modular housing to Brazil.)
  • Inovatec System produces insulating sandwich panels with structural skins of glass/epoxy and a foam core. It says a standard house can be constructed from prefabricated elements in 1-3 days. (See Building on the advantages of composites in construction.)
  • SAFEHUT LLC manufactures collapsible, reusable composite shelters from FRP sandwich panels. The SAFEHUT system has a broad range of potential applications, including semi-permanent shelters for people displaced by natural disasters, construction site offices, and secure storage units. (See SAFEHUT composite shelter can be set up in 10 minutes.)