Production technology

Working more on the basis of standardised processes and products

Heijmans has been successfully marketing affordable concept homes for all kinds of target groups for over ten years now. Given increasing pressure on the housing market and the ever-increasing demand for affordable homes for multiple target groups, the advantages of conceptual construction are becoming clearer by the day. This is because we can develop and build faster at lower costs, which in turn enables us to respond to changing circumstances. It also enables us to deliver sustainable, high-quality homes with excellent customer ratings. Based on established house types, variations and a standardised process, we create houses with their own identity. Variation and sustainability are the norm and as a result no two neighbourhoods are the same.

Flexible living

More and more local authorities and housing corporations are finding that temporary buildings are one solution to the persistent housing shortage. The Heijmans ONE is an affordable and sustainable ‘tiny house’ with the same living comfort and experience as a ‘normal’ home. Meanwhile, small neighbourhoods of Heijmans ONEs can already be found in many places in the Netherlands. In Nijkerk, the Nijkerk housing corporation commissioned Heijmans to build a neighbourhood with 28 Heijmans ONE homes for home seekers who were in danger of falling between the cracks. The 28 homes will remain at this location for ten years, after which they can be relocated.

In addition to the ONE, we are now developing the Heijmans TWO. This is another flexible, relocatable home. It complies with the building code for permanent housing, which means it is no longer mandatory to relocate the house after 15 years. In addition to the quality of the homes themselves, we also consider the connection with the environment and nature to be important in temporary construction. Because in many cases ‘temporary’ housing is still in place for a period of ten years or more. This means that a healthy living environment is just as important as it is in large area developments.

Living by the sea in Duineveld

Comfortable living with the feeling of a permanent beach holiday: Heijmans has built a number of beautiful villas, townhouses and apartments in the luxury residential area of Duineveld. The Noordwijk bathhouse-style architecture was combined with the style and atmosphere of The Hamptons and the result is nothing short of unique. This relaxed neighbourhood stands out thanks to its porches, verandas, light tones and lots of space. Residents were able to design their homes according to their own wishes, giving them the opportunity to realise their dream homes. Relaxed and comfortable living by the sea.

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Smart stacking and switching

In addition to our house concepts, Heijmans Property Development and Residential Building have jointly developed two apartment concepts for inner-city (redevelopment) areas: one concept for apartments with galleries and one with portico access. Using these concepts as a foundation, it should be possible to transform current neighbourhoods (from the 1950s and 1960s construction period). Heijmans can develop and build more efficiently by using standardisation while retaining variation, digitalisation and prefabrication. This results in affordable apartments for various target groups in the social, mid-rental and higher segments, both for the rental and the owner-occupied markets, in a single building.

The structure-defining elements, such as shafts for pipes, have been placed at strategic positions, allowing us to stack and link the various housing types in a smart way. This ensures a high level of variation in housing type and size within one building. Heijmans customises the building plinths, facades and roofs. Heijmans is building the first apartments according to this new concept in the transformation and renewal of the Dreven, Gaarden and Zichten neighbourhoods in the south-western part of The Hague.

New generation of homes

As its next step towards standardisation and sustainability, Heijmans will produce timber-frame houses on an industrial scale: Heijmans Horizon. In late 2021, Heijmans took over the energy-neutral timber-frame factory in Heerenveen. We expanded the factory in 2022, and we will produce the first concept homes there from the second quarter of 2023. The new factory has a floor area of 18,500 m2.

The sustainable character of this new generation of homes can be found in numerous aspects, both in the choice of materials and in production and logistics. For instance, we use different insulation materials. And thanks to the use of timber, we use 50% fewer primary raw materials, which significantly reduces CO2 emissions. Timber is also much lighter and therefore more sustainable to transport, which means fewer and lighter transport movements. The fact that the house is built at one location and then transported to the construction site in one go also reduces inconvenience for local residents.

We have also digitalised the entire primary process so we can manage the factory effectively. The machines in the factory can now be controlled directly from our 3D models. This saves time and reduces the risk of errors in the process. Just as importantly, this way of building keeps the houses affordable. The first contract for more than eighty new-build homes will provide social housing for a housing corporation.

Learning together

Parallel to the opening of our own factory, we entered into a strategic partnership with VDM in Friesland, which has been producing timber-frame houses since 1880. Our partner VDM provided valuable knowledge for the realisation of this new Heijmans concept. We worked on five projects, totalling 38 homes, to test innovations on a small scale in preparation for large-scale production from our factory in Heerenveen. We completed the first 10 homes last year in Emmeloord, while 16 homes in Norg and five more in Amersfoort will follow in 2023. We have also produced housing elements for the external market from our factory.

Development agenda for homes

We are not only innovating on the timber-frame construction front, as we are also looking at how we can future-proof our overall range of residential products so they are a seamless fit with our clients’ needs. Meanwhile, Horizon is driving our transition from technology-driven to customer-driven development of housing solutions. People will soon be able to offer a home using a residential configurator. This will enable us to translate design choices or consumer choices during the sales process directly into the production process that controls the work in the factory. This gives us greater insight into the footprint of the materials used and allows us to adapt the product more quickly to future changing housing needs and requirements. We are also thinking about what new products to develop in the future. Last year, we worked on a product book/portfolio, which we will launch in 2023.

Our goals on this front are:

  • Pleasant neighbourhoods for everyone

  • Sustainable in production

  • Sustainable in use

  • Feasible and affordable

Project Greenville: Heijmans is developing and realising 125 homes near the core shopping area in Leidsche Rijn Centrum

Helping to solve other societal issues

The application of industrial-scale, smart technology and digitalisation to the development of homes will enable us to bring affordable and sustainable products to the market. This will benefit first-time buyers and home seekers in the owner-occupier and rental markets. The huge shortage of skilled workers and the ageing population is also impacting the manufacturing industry. Industrialisation will enable us to produce more efficiently, maximising the use of our talented professionals for the major construction challenge we face in the coming years.

Development agenda for working

At our Non-residential Business, we are exploring options for the development of innovations, digital products and sustainable products. For this reason, we entered into a partnership with Unknown Group, a broker for start-ups. Together with start-up communities, we will look at solutions that are already being tried out in other countries, for example, and that we could use here.

We also have a number of fellowships with the Technical University of Twente. We are investigating how we can build in a future-oriented manner, for instance modular building for hospitals and other buildings. We are also looking at platform-based building; designing from a platform. Together with TU Twente, we are thinking about how we can do that even smarter and better.

Sharing sustainable knowledge

Stijn Tolhuijsen (32) is a project developer at the Property Development business unit, and in 2022, he and a colleague set up an internal sustainability training programme.

“A lot of my work at Heijmans takes place at the very start of a project. When we still have to think about what we are going to realise, with whom and in what way. Sometimes that starts on a large meadow where nothing has ever been built; another time it’s at a busy point in the middle of the city. That first part, where my main task is to be creative, innovative and technical, is what I like most about my job.”

“I am extremely proud to work for Heijmans and find it easy to identify with the sustainable goals we set as a company. Despite Heijmans being a large company, it devotes a lot of attention to individual employees and you get the chance to contribute and implement new ideas. For example, last year I joined a colleague who wanted to set up an internal sustainability training course. And we were given the freedom and the trust to do it together.”

“The training course consists of eight sessions: each month, we cover a different theme: from circularity to social cohesion, and we have both internal and external speakers for the sessions. We already have a lot of sustainability know-how in-house, but as a large company the trick is to make sure we share it among ourselves. This approach seems to be catching on; in any case, I’ve already been given a lot of inspiration myself.”

Heijmans gives me all the freedom I need to contribute and implement new ideas

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