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Arctic Construction – in Aalbæk

A random call from Nuuk opened the door to a new business adventure for Per Gajhede and his company, Nordisk Elementbyg. The phone call was from a builder who wanted a wooden house in sustainable materials, and before the conversation ended, the foundation for a new Arctic construction was a reality. With a large location and urban Development plan until 2030, Nuuk is a sought-after target for the development of weather-resistant construction. Schools, institutions, business ‘es and not least housing are needed. Nuuk grows with over 200 people every year and the population is now 18,000.

“We saw the potential right away, and then we just had to figure out the execution. There is a huge difference between how we build in North Jutland and in Greenland. But we managed both quickly and easily,” says Per Gajhede about the house, which initiated the development of a new type of elements that comply with the Greenlandic building regulations.

Sustainable and fast

Nordisk Elementbyg as a company are used to working on special assignments, and has, among other things, contributed to the new BIG-designed museum Kistefos in Norway, and is also behind the construction of the amusement Matador city on Bakken. However, Arctic climate places special demands on the standard of construction. Biting winds and very big amounts of rainfall impose its natural constraints, the season is short and extended building periods are part of everyday life.

The building supply themselves are a chapter in their own right. It must be able to withstand the severe frost and large temperature changes. On the other hand, climate is one of the advantages of the elemental building from Aalbæk for a different reason. Per Gajhede and his carpenters worked from home. In a dry workshop hall, they built the elements, packed them in four containers, which were sailed from Aalborg to Nuuk. Within the short timeframe of three weeks for construction, two weeks for transport, and just two days to put it all together, ready to move the interior in.

“A full insulated wooden house ready for setting up the kitchen and bath, in two days. That was something that was noticed, and that is what we hope can help us get more customers. New Buildings in Greenland are often build on the existing shelf, because it is just the houses that are severely worn by the Arctic weather, and not the concrete,” says Per Gajhede.

Therefore, Greenland as a market is well suited for element construction. Per Gajhede is not the first person to figure that out. In contrast, the elements from Aalbæk have taken the challenges in account that housing according to Arctic DTU faces in the Arctic landscape. Wind penetration that makes them cold, and mold that makes them uninhabitable. Another case is the price. Element construction can keep costs down, as it only takes a few days to set up the houses. Additionally, it minimizes the so-called weather days, where construction work stands still because of frost and snow. Per Gajhede himself was in Nuuk to set up the commissioned house. Both he and his staff urge for more of the difficult tasks:

“After all, we have a lot of experience with construction under special conditions in Nordisk Elementbyg, and that know-how can gain more new experience in Greenland. We delivered a new house in two months in a place where customers are used to maybe two years. We think the time horizon can make a big difference."

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