Arquima & future industrialised housing

Arquima is a leading company in the industrialized construction sector with a focus on housing , equipment, facades and envelopes, with criteria of passive construction, health, sustainability and maximum energy efficiency.
The headquarters and the factory are located in Barcelona, although they have delegations throughout the national territory, they are starting an expansion phase, even at an international level.

Cutting machine © Stefano C. Ascione
Factory in Barcelona. © Stefano C. Ascione

They are committed to eco-efficiency, considering the health of people, to reduce CO2 emissions. Arquima uses materials with the minimum carbon footprint as wood from forests managed in a sustainable manner and certified with PEFC or FSC seals.

Why is prefab housing key to a sustainable future?

Industrialised housing allows for quality control, deadline control, cost control and productivity, which are not possible on site. Deadlines are drastically reduced due to the high productivity of a factory, where it is possible to build envelopes of several units per day. The thorough control of costs ensures budgets without deviations, which are very common in conventional construction. In a factory it is possible to work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without problems of unexpected bad weather, and with much more safety and comfort for the workers. And last but not least, industrialised timber construction does not generate waste, dramatically reducing the carbon footprint. All these factors significantly optimise construction and make construction more sustainable. In addition, for large serial projects, costs can be significantly optimised, and access to workers is much easier, when one of the big problems of on-site construction is manpower.

Prefabrication has undergone incredible transformation, what are these changes?

The main change is the quality and the level of industrialisation. Precast concrete has existed for many decades, but the quality of the construction, the level of industrialisation and the flexibility were minimal. Nowadays, and especially with industrialised lightweight timber frame systems, it is possible to carry out tailor-made projects, totally flexible, with a level of industrialisation that can reach 90 % in 3D systems, with an excellent construction quality, and with Passivhaus and Low Carbon criteria.

There is an urgent need of reliable, rapid and affordable construction solutions in major industries. Is prefabrication the key to unlocking affordable housing?

Although ARQUIMA’s market is focused on the construction of Passivhaus and high quality homes and buildings, industrialisation allows construction to be optimised to the maximum, and in a more standardised or serialised way, significant cost savings can be obtained in order to promote affordable housing. Of course, the key to cost optimisation is the efficiency that industrialisation promotes.

What would you say are the most important techniques to improve energy efficiency per square meter?

To meet the minimum energy consumption in a house, the basic principles of Passivhaus must be applied: a good level of insulation throughout the building envelope, thermal bridge free design, high performance windows and glazing, good airtightness and a double-flow controlled mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery. If you can add a good orientation and passive control of sun and shade, then you will have a home with low energy consumption.

Do you think building modular is appropiate for African Real Estate market, why?

Industrialised or modular construction is suitable for all markets, as it optimises time and costs compared to conventional construction, whatever the country or continent.

What are your new projects involving prefabrication?

We have more than 30 projects in the pipeline, ranging from single-family homes, multi-family buildings, tower blocks and facilities, both public and private.

interview by Gerardo Mingo

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