“Our revolutionaries serve as the backbone of our business”

Designing a revolution

Revolution Precrafted delivers real estate in record time

 


Text by Toby Waters / Photos by Revolution Precrafted


Legend has it that Sunomata Castle in Gifu Prefecture was built in only one night, by soldiers during a siege. It’s said they used pre-built castle parts and fit them together under cover of darkness. While the account of such swift construction is an exaggeration, there are many who — knowing how long it can take to build a property — would covet the expertise of Sunomata’s 16th century builders. Today there is a global firm that is rivalling this legendary efficiency — only this time, it has roots in the Philippines and a serious real estate pedigree.

“I grew up in a household that was immersed in the business of real estate,” says Robbie Antonio, CEO of Revolution Precrafted. “But, after I started out as a developer, I wanted to show that I could make it on my own, using my own contacts and experience. I wanted to explore a niche that I could own, and so I thought of branded prefab structures.”

Revolution Precrafted is a global property-tech company that is upending traditional firms by offering designer, prefabricated buildings that can be completed within two or three months — less than half the time of a typical job. Time saved on building also translates to reduced costs, which are passed on to the customer.

“Revolution Precrafted is one of the fastest-growing unicorn companies in the world,” Antonio explains. “It was launched in December 2015 and has since expanded its footprint to 27 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean and Australia. We currently have a total gross market value of $8.7 billion from our current pipeline of projects.”

And its portfolio of products on offer is diverse, covering seven categories: prefabricated homes, pavilions, museums, furniture, glamping accommodation, retail pop-ups and low- to mid-rise offices.

“At the moment, we are the only branded prefab company in the world,” says Antonio.

This unique approach to real estate construction means that the company has seen its fortunes rise almost as quickly as the building of its properties.

Revolution Precrafted’s first project was in the Philippines — the $1.1 billion Batulao Artscapes art park, which, according to Antonio, “embodies what we strive for: the convergence of art, design, fashion and architecture”. Then, almost immediately, the firm’s expansion abroad began, and it has already seen success in Europe, proving the feasibility and desirability of its business model.

“Prefabricated structures are quite popular in Europe, particularly in the Scandinavian market,” according to Antonio. “And more and more countries are seeing the benefits of reliable prefab structures that can be built faster, and much more affordably.”

The firm is working on a medium-rise tower in Helsinki, Finland, in cooperation with the Scandinavian developer Alvardag. It is a project that is certain to strengthen Revolution Precrafted’s presence across northern Europe.

The business is also spreading across Mediterranean Europe. It has arranged a partnership with Neinor Homes in Spain to build prefabricated homes in the Navarra region and the province of Castellon, and it is working on a residential project in Nicosia, Cyprus, with Cyprus Trading Corporation.

Japan, too, is fertile ground for Revolution Precrafted to make real progress.

“We are just beginning to explore possibilities in Japan,” Antonio reports, noting that the firm is currently finalising plans to develop 85 luxury boutique hotel villas on Miyako Island in Okinawa. “Tourism in Japan is particularly well developed, and we believe that there is space for prefabricated structures in the Japanese hospitality sector.”

But while the company’s expansion is important, Antonio has been careful not to sacrifice quality or produce buildings by the numbers, so it has hired a number of experts he has dubbed “revolutionaries”.

“The business model of the company allows customers to own homes designed by some of the world’s best architects, artists and suppliers,” he says. “This is thanks to an exclusivity agreement with 81 revolutionaries that come from the fields of architecture, furniture design, fashion and sports.

“Our revolutionaries serve as the backbone of our business,” he adds.

The paramount importance of architectural bona fides was clear to Antonio from the very beginning of the project.

“We made a conscious decision to approach architects and designers who are really accomplished in their fields,” he explains. “More than that, we approached those who I personally admire, such as Zaha Hadid Architects and Jean Nouvel, because we wanted to demonstrate it is really possible to collaborate with people of their calibre and create amazingly beautiful designs.”

According to Antonio, it isn’t just the opportunity to collaborate with a unique developer that attracts these revolutionaries, but the combination of artistic freedom with affordable real estate.

“We usually give them parameters in terms of the cost so the designs will be feasible, but apart from that, the revolutionaries are free to submit designs that they feel strongly about,” he explains. “We also encourage them to submit designs that bear their trademark look and feel. Meanwhile, some revolutionaries also reach out to us because they believe in what we are doing and want to help democratise design and make it accessible to everyone.”

Pritzker award-winning architects Christian de Portzamparc, Philip Johnson Allan Ritchie Architects, Paulo Miguel da Rocha, and Tange Associates are also among the revolutionaries who have signed up to the project. And Antonio can boast of having drawn on talent from Japan.

“Some of our standout pieces include Steel Cloud Pavilion by Kengo Kuma and Infinity Ring by Sou Fujimoto,” he states.

Revolution Precrafted is working towards the ambitious goal of being present in 35 countries by the end of this year and in 85 to 100 countries by the end of 2020.

“We are also looking at expanding our product portfolio to include prefab schools, clinics and similar structures,” says Antonio. “These efforts are crucial for us to achieve our revenue goals, and our goal of expanding our presence globally.”

It’s a long time since Sunomata Castle was built, whether in one night or not. But, with the innovations Revolution Precrafted has implemented, they are already laying siege to traditional developers. 

“we believe that there is space for prefabricated structures in the Japanese hospitality sector”

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