Construction startup Cuby is transforming manufacturing. The company’s new prefabricated building factory is inflatable and adaptable to specific work needs. This methodology is changing perceptions of efficient construction.
Co-founded by Aleks Gampel and Aleh Kandrashou, Cuby makes modular homes, essentially buildings that come in pieces and are assembled at a construction site. However, the factories where these prefabricated homes are built are just as impressive as the products coming out of them.
The dome and all the machines inside are transportable, requiring minimal space to set up. They can use areas like parking lots to manufacture prefabricated homes, cutting down on logistical needs and making it more sustainable.
VIDEO: Introduction to Cuby Technologies, Inc.
How does the inflatable factory work? The space is a large arch-covered shed. Cuby’s robotics construct modular building parts inside the structure quickly and economically. The factory can create four to eight single-family homes per month.
“It depends on the asset class given that we can build more than one asset type, but end to end, we are trying to build close to 20 homes per month with 10 times less labor,” Gampel told Consensus via email.
Cuby’s business model is unique in addressing the labor shortage many countries are experiencing after the COVID-19 pandemic. The process is 30 to 40% cheaper than conventional construction. Time to move job sites — no trouble. The factory and machines can fit in about 20 shipping containers.
The inflatable factory idea is attracting serious attention from investors. Climate-tech venture capital firm At One Ventures has helped Cuby get its products off the ground. Gampel and Kandrashou set up one of their first factories in Eastern Europe.
The company is eyeing the U.S. as its next big market. Gampel said they are targeting “markets struggling with labor supply.” It already inked some nifty deals stateside. The company plans to develop single-family homes in suburban Philadelphia. A New Mexico pilot micro-factory was also recently announced, setting the stage for future projects in the states.
Construction is a massive industry, accounting for 13% of the global economy. It has faced problems in the 2020s, such as a skilled labor shortage, delayed completion time, lack of transparency of building materials and methods, and poor end-products.
Notably, 39% of the world’s emissions come from construction. Cuby seeks to offer efficient solutions to these issues. According to the company, its model doesn’t require as many skilled workers, noted by the 10 times less labor statistic. That’s thanks to robotic assistance, speeding up timelines significantly.
The best part: up to 90% less waste comes from the factory. That gives them a 70% increase in overall sustainability.
Modular homes have a longstanding historical influence on American architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright was a huge advocate of them. He cited that manufactured homes were easier to assemble and offered something for people from all walks of life.
Wright made that a point during some of his early prefabrication work. A simple design with a quick turnaround and fewer materials needed appeals to anyone looking for a new house.
R. Buckminster Fuller was another early 20th-century architect who dabbled in modular design. His Dymaxion House is one of the earliest attempts at a sustainably-crafted, mass-produced dwelling. Dymaxion’s hexagonal shape made it earthquake and storm-resistant. It even had water-efficient utilities.
Think about this: Fuller and Wright formulated these ideas in the 1920s. That was long before environmental consciousness, housing equity, and labor shortages were hot-button topics. In 2023, Cuby is picking up where these two architectural icons left off.
Berkshire Hathaway is also jumping into the modular home sector. Warren Buffett and his company invested in the MiTek Modular Initiative. Through a collaborative effort between construction software company MiTek and New York-based Danny Forster & Architecture, high-end modular buildings will be produced, including a hotel.
Much like Cuby, MiTek and Forster strongly believe prefabrication streamlines building times and is cost-efficient, all while creating top-quality buildings.
Cuby isn’t limiting itself to affordable houses. “Theoretically, we can do everything from permanent homeless shelters to single-family homes to multifamily to hotels, hospitals, and offices,” Gampel said.
Cuby’s services align with a continued push toward a sustainable future. A quicker, less-expensive construction process has the potential to help combat housing crises with minimal environmental impact.