Modular homes set to reign in Spain

11th July, 2019

AEDAS Homes, a leading listed homebuilder in Spain and the first to bet on offsite construction as a value-making proposition, has recently launched its second large-scale modular development, Etheria, in El Cañaveral, an up-and-coming area in Madrid that is popular with first-time home buyers and just 20 minutes from the city centre.

The design-led development of 41 contemporary terraced homes has a gross development value of approximately €17million (£14.7 million) and employs a volumetric 3D steel construction system. Designed by Estudio Lamela, the pre-eminent Spanish architectural firm responsible for Real Madrid's prefabricated modular residence, the 124 modules that comprise Etheria are being precision built in Toledo by a leading Spanish volumetric building specialist. Setting of the modules will begin this July and is expected to finish in November, giving Etheria a total build and installation programme of approximately 30 weeks. Angel Fernandez, Director of AEDAS Offsite Homes, explained the company's design ethos, saying: "We have a responsibility to contribute to the improvement of the European residential real estate market, by promoting its conversion to 'Industry 4.0' and making it more attractive to both customers and development professionals. We have a clear goal - to increase productivity and be able to ensure the health of the sector in the years to come by making it more resilient.


"Automatisation, using databases, standardising products and building offsite, as is the case with Etheria, makes it possible for us to increase our housing productivity. In this sense, the design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) strategy has reshaped our approach. By designing in concert with manufacturers, architects and engineers at the earliest stages of the process, we can improve both quality and quantity in equal measure, 

all while reducing construction time frames by a third. It's all about doing things in a way that is faster, leaner and smarter." With the Etheria development, AEDAS offsite homes has opted for a volumetric 3D steel construction system, which is the result of a new strategic agreement signed with one of Spain's leading modular building specialists. The 124 steel structure modules have steel-reinforced cast concrete slabs, which appeals to discerning home buyers in Spain, and are being produced at a new factory in Toledo. The factory's layout is based on an assembly line concept that is designed to increase productivity and ensure quality control at every stage in the process.

There are 11 stations, and modules move on rails from one station to the next, starting in the structure welding area and ending their journey in the quality control area, where they are checked and wrapped before being transported to site. In order to maximise the number of homes on site and to optimise the installation of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, houses are paired, with three modules on the ground floor and three modules on the first floor. This unique solution means that each house has one-and-a-half modules per floor, with the kitchens and bathrooms grouped in the central modules. Once MEP installation is complete, a party wall is installed to divide the central modules and create two separate homes that are mirror images of one another. From start to finish, the total build time is just six weeks, with setting taking place over a two-week period. For the facade, the design team chose through-coloured fibre cement panels.

Fernandez explained the choice of material, saying: "This type of ventilated facade is exceptionally well insulated, which you can imagine is extremely important to our customers, given how hot Spain's summers are. From a DfMA standpoint, it offers us a standardised, lightweight solution that can be manufactured elsewhere and transported to the facility where the modules are being constructed, then set on an aluminium substructure which is integrated into the steel frame – this further streamlines and speeds up the build process. And this type of facade has a really clean, modern look, 

which is favoured by our customers.  So this choice of material really adds a lot of value." All the high-end Etheria homes feature open-plan living spaces designed for comfort and functionality, with the needs of modern families in mind. Each house has an average floor area of 162m2 (1,740ft2) laid out on three levels. The modules that make up the ground floor and first floor are set on fully finished basements, and homebuyers can choose a three or four-bedroom layout, depending on their needs. 

"Based on how warmly the market received the first phase of our first offsite development—Merian in nearby Torrejon de Ardoz," adds Angel Fernandez. "We decided to move up our launch of Etheria, putting it on the market in April at a starting price of €405,000 (£350,000). With Merian, we discovered that the appetite for high-end modular is there in the Spanish market, and we expect that Etheria will replicate our success earlier this year."

David Martinez, CEO of AEDAS Homes, explained the homebuilder's vision for its offsite line, saying: "With Etheria coming on stream, we now have three offsite developments on the market in Madrid—Merian I and II, and now Etheria—and we will be launching additional projects here as well as in Costa del Sol this year. All in all, we currently have plans to put more than 180 offsite homes on the market this year, and we will be scaling up in 2020. Our target is for modular to account for around 10% of our total deliveries by 2022.

"We are also making a big push to incorporate high-quality prefabricated components into our traditional builds, which is our core business. Between this year and next, we will be working with our contractors to install 4,500 high-end bathroom pods in our multi-storey developments, as well as installing next-generation modular internal wall systems in 2,000 units. By incorporating these components into our developments, we are looking at considerable time savings, which is great for our customers, and limiting the impact of construction cost inflation, which is great for our bottom line." 

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