Seventy kilometres north of the Philippines capital of Manila, situated in the midst of The Lakeshore—a 250-hectare residential sprawl—lies Flavorscapes. Billed as the “world’s first livable food park”, the completed development will include multiple food-oriented museums, a beer garden, and a floating restaurant. None of this, though, is what makes Flavorscapes special. What makes the development truly unique is that it’s one of the maiden showcase projects of Revolution Precrafted, the Philippines’ first and only unicorn—a startup that’s worth $1 billion or more.

Under a deal with The Lakeshore’s developer, Revolution Precrafted will build Flavorscapes, consisting of more than 7,000 prefabricated homes, in addition to the posh amenities mentioned above.

Prefabricated, or prefab, is a method of construction in which components or entire sections of a home are manufactured in a factory, shipped and trucked to a site. The components are assembled by stacking them together like LEGO blocks. They can be dismantled and relocated should the owner decide to move.

Prefab homes can be made in bulk using machines; they require fewer workers to assemble and much less time than a regular construction. The process addresses the inefficiency and waste involved in conventional “stick-built” homes, which are erected from scratch through heavy manual labour. As a result, prefab homes are cheaper, too.

Some of the Revolution Precrafted homes at The Lakeshore, however, look nothing of the sort.

A visit to a portion of the site reveals that apart from what appear to be precast steel panels that substitute for hollow blocks—as described by a local prefab company executive evaluating photos of the homes, piles of unmixed sand, gravel and cement as well as reinforcing bars are being used, suggesting that the homes are being made the traditional way.

The 'Cocoon' homes by Revolution Precrafted being built in The Lakeshore, a sprawling property development in Pampanga, Philippines. Some buyers have complained that the homes are not prefabricated like the startup had initially advertised (Photo by Jum Balea)

Flavorscapes encapsulates how Revolution Precrafted seems to have struggled behind the scenes to bring its vision to reality.

Founded in 2015, the company earlier said it would offer the mass market and property developers prefab homes that are designed by world-renowned architects and artists, but sold for an average of $120,000. These homes could be ordered online and shipped anywhere in the world.

From homes, Revolution Precrafted aimed to branch out into condominiums, pavilions, museums and hotels. It was an idea that founder Robbie Antonio was confident could catapult his business to a billion-dollar valuation.

Revolution Precrafted achieved this in October 2017, after it raised a series B round for an undisclosed amount, which valued it at the hallowed billion-dollar mark. This seemingly vindicated the lofty expectations of Antonio, whose family controls Century Properties, a $120 million real-estate company in the Philippines.

AUTHOR

Jum Balea

Jum is a Manila-based reporter for The Ken, where she covers startups and business across Southeast Asia, with a focus on the Philippines. She previously was editor for Tech In Asia, and business editor for Philippine media companies Rappler and ABS-CBN.

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