We at Fira are inquisitive: we like to peek over the neighbour’s fence and see what we could do differently. Modular construction (don’t stop now – we’ll explain the term in more detail) has become more widespread in the world over recent years, but in Finland, things have remained quiet on this front. We sent our CEO, Jussi Aho, all the way to America to investigate trends in the construction industry.
It was during this trip that Jussi discovered the potential of modular construction. On his journey beyond the Atlantic Ocean, Aho took note of the following news: the construction company Katerra’s modular construction solution had secured a USD 865 million investment 2018. Modular construction offers the change required in the construction industry, speed and, above all, transparency in the construction process. We have studied the method at Fira, and are now about to bring a modular construction product family to the market.
Where did the idea for Fira Modules come from?
Fira’s Ville Wikström and Sami Purtola are determinedly discussing the company’s latest business, Fira Modules. Modular construction has been around for quite some time already, but only now is there a perceptible interest in it in Finland and other Nordic countries. According to Wikström and Purtola, modular construction could already be referred to as a megatrend, and Fira is introducing its own solution to it on the markets.
They add that, from a global perspective, what plagues the construction industry is excessive wastefulness: money is practically thrown away due to inconsistent planning and the loss in materials is high. Modular construction has answers to these problems, among others. Time use, materials and costs can be regulated in a very direct manner when modules are built at a factory. Tuomikoski and Purtola say that Fira has the courage to join the modular construction trend and offer solutions that bring the hoped-for improvement in profitability to the construction industry’s various processes
What is Fira Modules?
So, what is modular construction and Fira Modules? Think about a child’s toy blocks or bricks. Each block makes up a single unit of a home: kitchen, bedroom or bathroom. These blocks fit together and their places can be switched. This is how modular construction works at its simplest.
Modular construction begins from the architect’s drawing board. The architect draws blocks – or modules – that can be modified to meet the customer’s preferences and, first and foremost, fit each other. In modular construction, the different modules are built at a factory in dry and weatherproof conditions, and the prefabricated elements of a residential building are produced industrially. At the factory, the modules are fitted with partition walls, inner surfaces and fittings, for example. Other work, such as ventilation and sewerage, is also carried out at the factory. The modules are transported to the site according to schedule and installed in the agreed line, into a ready frame –one block on top of the other! The modules are finalised with cladding, and data communication networks, drains and power are brought on line.
Fira Modules offers smart building services and bathroom modules assembled at factories and ready for direct on-site installation in the building’s bathroom line. Modular construction can be compared to the production of cars on an assembly line, for example. Although each car is assembled from the same parts, every one of them is nevertheless unique. Given that we are all unique, we at Fira want to ensure that our modular products reflect the end user, resident or family of a flat. Fira Modules differs from traditional bathroom solutions in that modular construction allows for considering the needs of the user, rather than just technical solutions.
What are the opportunities and benefits Fira Modules can offer?
On a global scale, the benefits offered by modular construction are clear. Time use can be managed, the loss can be avoided and costs can be specified. Extra renovation work resulting from water damage can also be reduced since the quality of the modules is ensured by assembling them in dry mill conditions.
The benefits that a modularly constructed flat offer to its residents are clear: the building’s quality level is guaranteed due to the benefits offered by factory-constructed elements, and thanks to the modifiability enabled by modular construction, you can modify your own flat to your liking. The builder’s benefits include the risk-free nature of modular construction, a cost-effective construction method and the easy scheduling of a construction site. For users, the benefits of modular construction lie in the modifiability of the premises, and in how the premises can serve other services during its life cycle (converting a flower shop into a hairdresser’s, for example).