An interview with Founder & CEO Anthony Vanden Eede
Can you tell us the story of Ark Habitat ?
Anthony Vanden Eede : For as long as I can remember, I have always been passionate about both technology and real estate. It has always been a hobby for me to design dream homes.
However, as I grew up, I found out that the real estate and construction industry was in fact lagging behind most other tech-driven industries.
Moreover, the sector has an ongoing and growing demand for efficient construction processes :
- Buildings have a tremendous environmental impact, accounting for up to 40% of global CO2 emissions.
- The current pool of residential buildings is unfit to the future expected fast-paced shifts in demand.
- Finally, the productivity in the industry has not only struggled to keep up, but has been plummeting down since the 1960s.
That’s why our goal at Ark Habitat is to enable next-generation homes that are truly sustainable, highly customizable, with upgradable structure, layout and techniques, and embracing end-to-end automation.
How will it work ?
As a customer (either as a prospective homeowner or as a real estate developer), you’ll first land on our configurator. It will allow you to design your project in a few minutes, in a “What You See Is What You Get” fashion.
Once you are done with the preliminary project design, we compute in real time the performance of the building, its cost and the expected timeline. You will also have instant access to a photorealistic interactive 3D scene, in which you will be able to interact with the building, and iterate on its design, with the help of our team.
After the validation of the plans and the permitting phase, we will start the construction of the building, which is composed of 1 or 2D high-quality prefab elements that were designed to be compatible with high-speed on-site automated assembly. Our mid-term goal is to be able to assemble 80% of your building using autonomous existing industrial robots, which will help us provide higher-quality homes in less time and at a reduced cost.
Once the building has been assembled, we aim to provide the customer with a bunch of long-term services, such as included utilities, security systems, home automation, etc.
Moreover, since our buildings are designed to be evolutive, we will provide hardware upgrades so that the end-user can easily and in a cost-efficient manner customize their building, change its layout or upgrade its techniques. We really strive to build a long-term customer relationship.
What sets you apart from other companies ? What is your added-value ?
Ark Habitat is characterized by our unique holistic approach that tackles 3 things simultaneously :
- We design our own high-quality, prefab building elements
- They are made to fit perfectly with our high-speed on-site automated assembly solution
- And our entire process is digitized using our software app suite
While we are supported by industry experts, my core team and I are not per se from the construction and real estate industry. This actually allows us to have a fresh look on how to design better buildings, and to think “out of the box” for the development of our solution.
How do you envision the construction world of tomorrow ? What can we hope to see in the future, according to you ?
Most companies start designing their projects the traditional way, then they convert it to a digital format, while they should actually start with the digital first.
I believe that fully embracing the digital era will allow us to make buildings that are much more comfortable and provide better performance, while both reducing costs and shortening timelines.
Another important point is about automation :
- Today, automation is mainly off-site, in factories, and thus submitted to transport constraints, resulting in more standardized volumes and buildings.
- I believe that embracing on-site automation is key if we want to make more premium and unique buildings with the same quality improvements and cost reductions.
What are the next steps for Ark Habitat ?
Ark Habitat is a young company, and during its first 2 years of existence, we have mainly developed software tools, reduced scale prefab element models and autonomous construction algorithms.
We are gradually transitioning to a more hardware-focused R&D, including the design of our full-scale building elements and the start of a robotics lab.
We are planning to start the construction of our first control building during the first quarter of 2021, and we are already working on the following projects.
Finally, what would you like to tell us ahead of your launch ?
What we are trying to achieve is not easy, but I believe it is the right thing to do if we want to help the industry move forward. But more importantly, the end goal for us is to really have a positive impact on our future customers’ lives, by making homes in their image, which are more comfortable and more secure.
Thank you, that was really interesting ! Before we conclude, would you like to add anything ?
I can’t wait to share more on Ark Habitat at one of the next PropTech Lab events. Stay tuned !