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A removable military building in Antarctica

May 18, 2022

The Catalan firm Gaptek builds modular installations for defense, health, and logistics.

It all starts with three questions. First. Why does it take so long to build something? Second. Why can’t we disassemble a facility and move it somewhere else? Third. Why use materials that are hard to recycle, like concrete? And, finally, a fourth that brings them all together. Why are we still building the same way we did 50 years ago?

The answer in the case of Tomas Feliu, Jordi Vinyoles and Jordi Lacambra was to create Gaptek.

“It is a company that designs, manufactures and constructs buildings with innovative technology that transforms the construction process, improving time, costs and quality”, as says the director of their Madrid delegation, Salvador Allende.

 

It is not, however, just any company. First, because of the process. Gaptek constructs its buildings in parts provided by molds it has patented. These parts, which are joined to each other wherever the construction needs to be installed, are manufactured in factories in Galicia, Italy, and Saudi Arabia where the company has agreements. The parts are distributed from the company’s logistics center in Porqueres (Girona). The parts leave this Catalan municipality inside 20´ and 40´containers. This size allows transport by truck or ship and, in case of emergency, even by plane.

The latter is key for one of the company’s biggest clients: the armed forces. And here lies the other great singularity of this Barcelona-based company, which apart from constructing office buildings or large areas such as hangars and warehouses, it has carried out work for the Spanish Ministry of Defense, has built for NGOs, has expanded the Hospital de Granollers during the worst time of the pandemic and has school designs ready to use in case of need. Without forgetting the awards won in international competitions promoted by NATO.

“We have built infrastructure for the Ministry of Defense such as now hangars, warehouses, workshops, office buildings and even buildings for our army in a location as demanding as Antarctica: a warehouse and a workshop.”

Allende exemplifies. “Although we are a dual company, because our projects are valid for both the civil and military sectors, the defense sector represents a very important part of our business vein,” he justifies.

The manager relates it to the fact that building in this way is much more sustainable that the process greatly favors cost and time control, and that they are permanent but transferable constructions. “The different services of the Ministry of Defense have encountered the problem of closing military establishments, which has meant that traditional infrastructures have remained anchored to the ground,” explains the manager. “Our solution provides this plus of being able to change infrastructures, no matter how large they may be, and at a negligible cost compared to a new infrastructure”, he continues.

 

The company, which is in the process of recovering from the drop-in activity caused by the pandemic – previously had a turnover of approximately 20 million – has a workforce of 50 people and plans to grow progressively in the coming years.

 

“Although our buildings are beginning to be known, we are still in the phase of making our technology known because it is relatively new,” acknowledges the manager, because he does not close any doors in the future: “The fundamental idea is that we have a system with which we can do practically anything: hospitals, markets, schools… practically whatever is needed”, he concludes, and insists on his special interest in promoting the sustainability of the circular economy.

 

-Paula Clemente.

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Copyright 2022.

Publication  d’El Periódico of May 8, 2022 Supplement – Companies

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