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News I published 17 December 2021

European architects see a wide variety of advantages of prefab

Over the years, we have seen the use of prefabricated elements in construction projects of European architects grow steadily. As we discussed in a previous article, European architects expect that growth to continue in the coming years, albeit not everywhere at the same pace. That can depend on the presence of driving trends like labour or housing shortages for instance, or on the share of new-build projects in a certain country.

The growth of prefab depends on the advantages it offers to deal with those overarching trends and market characteristics. The question is what those advantages of prefabricated elements are, which is what we interviewed architects about for the Q3 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Architectural Barometer. We asked architects from eight European countries what advantages they think drive the shift towards using prefabricated elements.

Speed is of the essence

Using prefabricated elements clearly speeds up the construction process. In all countries, the largest share of architects see faster building as the main advantage that drives using prefab. In most countries, a substantial share of architects also see fast production as an advantage. Although there are some differences per country, speed is clearly of the essence.

Faster building links to major trends like housing shortages and also labour shortages. By speeding up the construction process, you need labour for a shorter period to finish a project, meaning you need less labour per project. The connection with labour shortages is also visible in the second most mentioned driver of prefabrication: cost efficiency. Where labour is in shorter supply, labour costs rise. Prefabrication allows for faster and less labour-intensive construction, thereby reducing overall costs.

Architects see a wide variety of advantages of prefab in every country

Aside from speed and costs, a wider variety of advantages is named by the architects. They mention the possibilities prefabrication offers for quality consistency, for instance. They see the importance of the fact that prefabricated elements are fabricated in a controlled environment, absent of the dust and influence of the elements you find on the construction site. In some countries, architects even see the durability or sustainability of using prefabrication as a driving factor.

More important than exactly which advantages of prefab architects see in each country, is that they see a wide variety of advantages in pretty much every country. That means they believe prefab can be a solution to a wide variety of trends and characteristics in their market, which substantiates the forecast of growing usage of prefab in the future. Basically, prefabrication and industrialisation of the construction industry will contribute to a better, faster and cheaper process which is much needed for an industry where productivity has not increased as much as in many other industries.

Using more prefabricated elements will affect demand from every party involved in the changing construction process. To be able to gauge how substantial the growth and impact of prefab will be in each of the eight researched markets, we refer you to the Q3 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Architectural Barometer.

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