As the Tallinn Architectural Biennale showed, there is a wealth of architectural talent in Estonia. Katus.eu is the brainchild of three Estonians who decided that there was a gap in the market for distinctive, high-quality prefabricated housing. With the growing need for affordable housing across Europe, allied to a wish for something different from the crowd, it seems they could be onto something. Katus.eu is the fourth and final entry into the Ajujaht Estonian business competition that will be profiled on Charm Offensive prior to the panel decision on November 29th, which will reduce the field. Of course we will report on the fortunes of the teams, and their next steps. As with all of the other teams profiled, Katus.eu have used Fleep as their project management and communication tool.
Tiit Sild, one of the project team, explains the thinking behind the concept.
Describe your idea, and how it works.
Our team has built a website where we offer an alternative to the generally quite bland and conservative prefab house market. So far we have a pretty solid website going with 30 architectural projects (and growing) from some of the top offices in Estonia. We also have contracts with 4 Estonia based wooden prefab house manufacturers and negotiating with some more. Currently, Estonia is the biggest exporter of prefab houses in Europe, they export 85% of their products. Contacts and experience they have abroad give our architects an opportunity to export good Estonian architecture.
The idea of Katus.eu is to tie together the knowledge and processes of prefabricated house manufacturers and architects to offer high quality buildings as a result. For customers with desire to buy a new home we’d be the place with wide selection of modern solutions. We also aim to be a platform for architects and manufacturers to sell and realise their quality products. Our ambition is to slowly shift the perception of good architecture from uninspiring, conservative houses to real, thrilling and exceptional.
How did you come up with your idea - what inspired it?
During the last economic upturn many new suburban villages were built. Unfortunately most of them are really conservative in style and poor in quality. This perception was the trigger that released the idea for us.
Why do you believe there will be a demand for your idea?
If people are buying a new car, they are automatically very interested in style, aerodynamics, design, comfort and energy and fuel consumption issues.
We don’t see why the process of buying a house should be any different. Why should traditional look be preferred to a contemporary one? We think prefab home manufacturers have underestimate the taste and wisdom of people. We really believe that we are creating new way of looking at home construction. And we believe that ecological thinking and progressive technological solutions must go hand in hand with innovative architecture.
Who is in your team?
We have three people on our team. I’m a former city architect from Tartu. I have always looked at new ways to link quality modern architecture with technology and environment. Martti Kork is the former CEO of a prefab house company and he’s also been building up the sales networks of Nokia and LG Estonia. Martin McLean is a student, who has an experience working as an architect in Shanghai and Austria.
How did you get together as a team, and what are your everyday jobs?
The idea came to us three years ago when Martti was CEO of a prefab house manufacturing company and I was a city architect. As many ideas do, this one started with a glass of beer!
Estonian Innovators is presented by Charm Offensive, Ajujaht and Fleep, the new social tool from Estonia, for the conversations that matter.