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ESRs visit to the Casais Group in Portugal

Posted on 09-03-2022

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Blog post written collectively with Aya Elghandour and Carolina Martín

 

Last month three Early-Stage Researchers (Aya, Carolina and Annette) visited project partners the Casais Group in Braga, Portugal. Casais is an international construction company founded in Portugal with experience in several sectors, including housing. Casais have been integrating Industrialised Construction in the delivery of their projects, which includes the creation of their off-site BluFab factory in Braga.

 

Casais established BluFab in 2019 and since then they have been optimising their design and manufacturing processes to build more sustainable, precise and cost-efficient projects. Aware of the current affordable housing shortages, they are developing optimisation tools using digital technologies to gradually increase their level of industrialisation to enhance productivity, minimise delays, and improve scalability. The company is invested in improving the sustainability of their projects through training staff in Green Building assessments to monitor projects in-house, as well as using Industrialised Construction methods such as pods and panelisation. Casais aims to automate processes and use the latest tools and technology in a seamless way together with the other stakeholders involved in the delivery of housing. 

 

One of their current challenges lies in finding the best way to utilise ICT tools such as BIM to achieve an effective knowledge transfer between the different design and manufacturing stages. This matter is also tightly linked with the possibility to mass customise housing to attain a personalised and adaptable building stock. We believe the collaboration between the ESRs and Casais will be key in finding the right balance between the level of variety offered and the need to adopt an economy of scale, using Industrialised Construction methods and BIM to provide affordable and sustainable housing solutions.    

In the context of Housing Life Cycle Costs, discussions with the Casais team were very fruitful to reveal practical aspects of current construction issues in Europe and their approach to tackle them. For instance, one of the most challenging aspects facing construction in Portugal is the lack of skilled labour, which is expected to worsen in the following years. Another issue is the costs that must be paid to the municipality per day for occupying the street and disturbance around the construction site. Therefore, Casais are working on finding innovative ways to overcome these challenges by industrialising the process. These industrialised solutions, which includes off-site construction of building elements in their factory and transporting them to the construction site, save a lot of time and money and mitigates risks! 

 

With the huge housing demand in Portugal and the need to design and construct sustainably, it is vital for the industry to respond to these challenges in line with the latest research. Therefore, the collaboration between Casais and RE-DWELL’s Early-Stage Researchers aims to contribute to further developing industrialised construction solutions, understanding the market needs, and communicating these with design teams. We look forward to continuing to develop our projects with Casais.

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