Modular Building Houses is here, now.

Modular building, serial, prefabricated building—the solution to the housing problem?

Housing stock is under pressure globally, rents are rising, and at the same time living space is becoming increasingly scarce. But there is a promising approach to solving these challenges that has been around for decades: serial and modular construction with industrially prefabricated components. Modular construction is currently one of the most important future trends in the construction industry that is receiving a lot of attention by price conscious developers, and now consumers wanting better and more affordable housing.

What is modular building?

In modular construction as the construction method of the future, individual, three-dimensional modules are industrially pre-produced according to the modular principle. The individual construction parts for serial building are created beforehand on the computer using digital tools and can be assembled and disassembled in any number of variants. This includes all the necessary information: from the number of elements and physical properties to the graphical representation of all connections. In this way, different variants of a building with different floor plans can be sketched within a few minutes. This digital data is then used to create standardized, freely combinable building kits that are assembled fully automatically in the factory – similar to cars on an assembly line. Except that instead of bodies and engines, windows and facades are assembled. Ultimately, all the components come together at the construction site.

Incidentally, modular construction is also called serial construction, because the industry uses a construction method here that produces modular parts in series. The modular process is not entirely new. Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe were already working with it in the 1920s. In the 1960s and 1970s, serial construction experienced another boom with the well-known prefabricated buildings. Today, it is once again in vogue because it is seen as a promising solution for creating new living space as quickly, flexibly and cheaply as possible.

Modular construction Timber City

Modular construction—the most important advantages

Not only does modular construction counteract the shortage of materials and skilled labor, it also combines many other plus points:

  • Less construction waste on the building site: When the individual modules are prefabricated in the workshop, there is less waste on the construction site and less noise on site. In addition, uniform quality is ensured. In timber construction, for example, this works particularly well because timber modules are still light and easy to transport when completely finished. On the construction site, they are quickly assembled.
  • Lengthy planning and construction processes are minimized: With the help of digitized working methods, adjustments can be implemented flexibly in just a few minutes. Industrial production enables fast as well as efficient planning and construction processes.
  • Reduce costs and build more sustainably: Reduced planning effort makes the entire construction process less expensive. In addition, shorter construction processes mean that less electricity, gasoline and other resources are needed. This sustainably protects the environment.
  • Flexible customization options: Standardized, prefabricated construction processes are easy to adapt. With modular construction, for example, it is possible to reuse individual parts or reuse them elsewhere. Serial construction promotes the idea of a sustainable circular economy.
Modular Construction

Serial and modular construction as a future trend

Even though there are many advantages, according to VdW Südwest, the Association of the Southwest German Housing Industry, the current market share of modular buildings is only around four percent. But that is set to change in the future: Urban densification is steadily increasing. Modern construction methods such as modular building make it possible to create living space quickly. Urban planners are already facing major challenges because they have to represent municipal interests and at the same time deliver sustainable, sensible concepts for daycare centers, schools, offices, dormitories or single- and multi-family homes.

The speed of modular construction offers a key advantage here: compared to the normal construction of an apartment building, which can take one to two years, the construction of a serial apartment building takes only about four months. In addition, demand is growing for so-called mixed-use properties, which combine various functions and areas of life such as living, sports, work and so on in a confined space. New strategies and concepts for mixed-use real estate are needed here.

Building Houses the smart way

Sustainable building with modules

Modular construction also plays an important role in terms of sustainability. This is because serial productions make it easier to implement climate-friendly energy concepts because they produce less construction waste. In addition, it is possible to save fossil resources such as electricity or gasoline. Raw materials can also be reused thanks to modular construction. An old single-family house can quickly be turned into a new student apartment using modular components. Modular construction will prevail in the future, as the demand for modern housing concepts continues to grow. Industry experts predict that modular and serial construction will probably continue to gain acceptance in Germany within the next five to ten years.

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