By using a modular construction method, the VDL group (based in the Dutch province of Brabant) and the Van Wijnen construction concern believe they can build a new home within 24 hours. This would normally take a period of 60 days. In addition, this industrialized approach also contributes to construction that is more sustainable. The number of transport movements on building sites can be substantially reduced. This drastically reduces CO2 emissions.

The Dutch government wants at least one million new homes to be built by 2030. This aims to reduce the enormous pressure on the housing market. There is a particular need for affordable housing for first-time buyers. At present, the number of new homes that need to be built in The Netherlands this year to meet the demand is far behind schedule.

Complete bathrooms and toilet units

As of next year, VDL will start building complete bathrooms, toilets and technical rooms as ready-to-use modules for installing in houses at Van Wijnen construction sites in the northern Dutch province of Friesland. Willem van der Leegte, president of the VDL Groep: “In a wealthy country like the Netherlands, everyone deserves to have an affordable roof over their head. With this partnership with Van Wijnen, we combine the strengths of construction and innovation in industry. We will also be able to keep our employees in Friesland working in a sustainable way and, through the industrialization of the construction process, we can contribute to the realization of affordable homes.”

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    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Geindustrualiseerde-badkamermodule-1004x870.jpg

    The new activities for VDL in Heerenveen will provide employment for all of the 150 employees. After retraining, all employees will work for VDL Smart Spaces (the new company name) on the construction modules, or as seconded workers at the new housing construction factory being built by Van Wijnen. This is being built a stone’s throw away from the VDL Bus Heerenveen location. A small number of the employees will continue to work for VDL Bus & Coach in Heerenveen.

    “The collaboration with VDL marks the next step towards a far-reaching industrialization of the construction industry,” said Van Wijnen CEO Peter Hutten. “With VDL, one of the largest players in the high-quality Dutch manufacturing industry is entering the construction sector.”

    Special projects

    The Van Wijnen construction group is known for its innovative construction projects. For example, in Project Milestone, the company is building the first 3D printed concrete house in Eindhoven. Another special project is being carried out at De Loskade, on the former Suikerfabriek (sugar factory) site in Groningen. This is where Van Wijnen is experimenting with a circular neighborhood of the future.

    VDL Group makes products such as suspension systems, automated equipment of automobile manufacturing factories, heat exchangers and container handling systems. Also, along with VDL Nedcar in Born, VDL has the only passenger automobile manufacturing factory in the Netherlands.

    Photos: The interior of an industrialized bathroom (top) and the integrated technology that makes up the bathroom module (middle).

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Arnoud Cornelissen has for many years been writing about science and technology in, among others, various Dutch newspapers.