[Translate to English:] Baustelle: Kran und Gebäude aus der Froschperspektive

Recently, our online magazine dealt with the topic of urban densification, because more living space is absolutely necessary in Germany - especially in urban agglomerations. A further topic resulting from this problem is modular construction - after all, the new living space should be built as quickly as possible and at the same time be affordable. For this reason, industrial construction methods with a high degree of prefabrication are increasingly in focus, including modular construction. But what does this actually mean?

Already the famous painter of the "Mona Lisa", the universal genius Leonardo Da Vinci, built the "Casa mutabile" in 1494: a completely prefabricated house built on the banks of the river Tigris. Not for nothing, therefore, is he considered the forefather of prefabricated modular construction. It is based on an enormous degree of prefabrication: all elements are pre-assembled and often windows, stairs etc. are pre-installed. The finished module is delivered to the construction site and only needs to be connected to other modules on site. This offers building owners, investors and project developers numerous advantages, especially in terms of profitability, investment security and sustainability: In up to 70% shorter construction time, buildings for the most diverse requirements are created at a fixed price and on the agreed date. Thanks to the modular design, these buildings can be individually adapted to the wishes of the building owner at any time. Another advantage on the construction site is the extensive independence from the weather.

 Self portrait Leonardo da Vinci red chalk drawing

So-called self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci (red chalk drawing, Biblioteca Reale, Turin, around 1512)

Modular or serial?

Serial construction is often used synonymously with modular construction. According to a study of the magazine BaustoffMarkt in cooperation with the market research institute abh Market Research the term serial building stands simply for the realization of standardized buildings with type approval. This means that the type of building once planned is built identically at different locations, i.e. in series. In the study it is underlined that no industrial prefabrication is necessary for this - after all, a solid house built in the traditional way of construction can also be built in series at different localities In fact, however, most serially erected buildings consist of large-format, prefabricated modules that are merely connected at the construction site. In such cases, serial and modular construction are identical.

Nevertheless, not every modular building is serial at the same time, because it can be built as a single work of prefabricated modules - in addition, there are numerous buildings that were not planned in series and yet - at least in part - consist of modules. One only has to think of balconies added later or prefabricated wet rooms that are inserted into the building on site. In such cases, the term modular construction is also often used.

Building site

Photo by Michele Bitetto on Unsplash

Will the modular design become the new standard?

The result from the study of building material market and abh Market Research says on the one hand that serial building in this country in the multi-storey dwelling construction hardly falls so far into weight. On the other hand the relevance of the modular construction method increases even in multi-storey buildings - standard are already modules such as facades, balconies, walls and ceilings. The modular construction method is also becoming increasingly important for roof extensions in existing buildings - in the truest sense of the word. Although the modular construction method is still not very widespread in this country, the quality of what is on offer in this area is already very high - both architecturally and in terms of construction and energy technology. For example, the Hanseatic City of Hamburg has launched the "Hamburg Class House" school development plan in 2019 to rapidly expand the city's school landscape in response to steadily growing numbers of students. The concept provides for prefabrication of the buildings in factory halls in order to minimize the construction time and to be able to build regardless of the weather. During ongoing operations, 44 new buildings and 123 extensions to existing school locations are to be created in this way. This means that Hamburg is fully in line with the trend.

Hamburg by night


Hamburg is one of the urban agglomerations that urgently need more built space. Among other things, projects in modular construction are being developed. Photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash

Reacting to developments in architecture

The emco Group is also close to the trends in architecture, developing its products with a high affinity to architecture and a special focus on the needs of users. Entrance mats for every type of building are just as much a part of the portfolio as sophisticated bathroom modules and accessories, including products that can be easily retrofitted and - similar to modular construction - simply adapted. In this way, the emco Group provides the best possible support for every architectural style and every user requirement.

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