Prefab21: Phoenix Response House, a one-bedroom unit designed by Deakin University and Geelong company FormFlow, will be on display at the Geelong Design Week, with visitors of the festival able to take a guided tour of the house.

The prototype has been developed by academics and students at the university's School of Architecture and Built Environment in conjunction with angled corrugated sheet specialists FormFlow.

The prototype utilises new prefabrication technologies developed by FormFlow and includes a living space, bedroom and bathroom in a space measuring just 4m by 10m.

Professor James Doerfler, Chair in Architecture in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at Deakin, says the house is an improvement of the original Prefab21 project completed in 2020.

“Each of the Prefab21 projects have been carefully designed and created with a particular client and need in mind,” he says.

“This year, Prefab21 took on the challenge of designing an emergency shelter for post-disaster relief. Over the course of the trimester, a team of academics, Architecture and Construction Management students, and industry partners explored the requirements of emergency shelters, particularly in the Australian context.

“The outcomes of the design process led to designing a transitional shelter which would allow people to live in the structure for longer periods of time than they would a tent or other impermanent shelter.”

Prefab21 is very much a portable home. The shelter is relatively lightweight, and can be towed behind a ute to get to remote areas. It can also be folded back up, be moved, and reused.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin says the Prefab21 projects are an excellent example of universities and industry partners working together for the community.

“This project brought together Formflow, a company that has graduated from our ManuFutures incubator facility, our students and academic staff to solve a really pressing problem. It is fantastic to see the talents of our students engaged in this kind of project.

“At Deakin we are building an ecosystem that allows the development of ideas into innovative, community-based solutions that support social, cultural and economic wellbeing. The Prefab21 projects demonstrate once more how collaborations between universities and industry can lead to practical and effective solutions that have wide application.

“What is most exciting about the Prefab21 projects is their enormous potential. We believe there is a real opportunity to use the shelters not only for housing after bushfires and other natural disasters, but also for other long-term temporary housing situations.”

Geelong Design Week will run from 18 March until 28 March. For more information, head to