Gå til indhold

Resumé af Christian Vindal Bechs speciale

Specialetitel: Off-Site Manufacturing of Greenlandic Buildings - A Social and industrial investigation.


The Greenlandic climate provides challenging conditions for builders, with snow, low temperatures, and strong winds. This, coupled with poor infrastructure, can make it difficult to transport and store building materials or plan and manage workflows. Additionally, many Greenlandic homes are characterized by inadequate maintenance, mold, and lack of insulation to such an extent that they require extensive renovation. Many buildings do not live up to modern standards, which has made people demand better quality housing

In less extreme climates, we are undergoing a paradigm shift towards automated off-site manufacturing of building components like walls, roofs, or larger building modules that can be quickly assembled on site. The shift is being driven by housing shortages, demand for better quality construction, and a lack of skilled labor in the construction sector. Greenland, therefore, seems like a prime candidate for a similar transition as they battle the same driving forces.

The terms off-site manufacturing refers to the manufacturing, planning, design, fabrication, and assembly of building elements at a location other than the final building site. The idea behind the concept is to boost the speed and efficiency of constructing a permanent structure. Raw materials are brought to a facility or production site where the building elements are created. The ready-to-assemble building elements can be in different degrees of advancement, from a flat open wall component with only structural elements to fully operating rooms with installations, claddings, windows, and different interiors. The elements can then be packed in shipping containers and transported to their final destination for quick on-site assembly.

Off-site modular construction and prefabrication are widely known concepts in the literature, but the knowledge is limited to operations in and around developed cities. The literature, including Dodge Data & Analytics (2020), Smith & Rice (2017), and Builtworlds & Skender (2019), claims that off-site manufacturing and modular construction bring several benefits to the construction process, including:

  • Shortened project schedules
  • Reduced cost
  • Higher quality
  • Improved safety

My thesis investigates the implications of off-site manufacturing of Greenlandic buildings by analyzing how the construction method fits the Greenlandic social and industrial context. Greenlanders have a natural resistance towards Danish interference and new ideas, especially in the construction sector. One reason for this is the many historical examples of bad initiatives brought to the north by southerners, ideas and methods that do not work in the Greenlandic environment. Before suggesting a new construction method in Greenland, it is essential first to understand the Greenlandic context and investigate the potential implications of the suggested method.

Over the following pages, I provide a resumé of the thesis's methods, analysis, and key findings. The thesis was supervised by Kevin Michael Smith, Martin Kotol, and Giulia Nardelli from the Technical University of Denmark. I submitted the thesis on August 1st, 2021, defended on august 11th, 2021, and received the grade 12 (A).


There is a considerable shortage of housing in Greenland's larger cities. At the same time, there is a significant renovation backlog and people living in buildings that are not up to the current building standards. These challenges require a social and financially sustainable solution that adds value to Greenlandic society.

This thesis analyzes if and how off-site manufacturing of Greenlandic buildings can help relieve housing shortages by producing socially desirable homes of high quality that are fast and affordable to construct.


A deductive approach characterized the investigation; I formed the hypothesis from literature reviews, and from that, I developed a framework to test if the hypothesis holds.

I gathered a mix of qualitative and quantitative data to analyze and outline the benefits and risks of developing off-site manufacturing of Greenlandic buildings. The primary data is qualitative ethnographic material explicitly collected for this thesis. It consists of scratch notes, field notes, interview recordings, pictures, videos and policy papers, reports, website descriptions, newspaper articles, and social media debates. I assembled this data throughout a six-week field trip to Sisimiut in Greenland, where I lived and breathed in a Greenlandic environment. I engaged with the local community in multiple ways through sports activities and community events. Later as I made friendships, I became a part of the community and was invited to various social gatherings. The secondary data consists of quantitative data from measurements and personal requests. I chose the mixed-method, i.e., qualitative and quantitative methods, to link the project-specific qualitative research with external quantitative sources.


I emphasized interviewing people from different social and industrial layers to form a holistic view of the stakeholder landscape. Therefore, I interviewed both local engineers and contractors but also carpenters and high school teachers. Each interview was compiled with transcripts and interview notes collected in a qualitative and mixed-methods data analysis tool, MAXQDA.
The interviews were primarily one-on-one interviews to gain insight into people's perceptions, experiences, and understandings of the different topics without leading to groupthink and to give a sense of anonymity.


The observations are subjective because they represent the researcher's thoughts and experiences. However, when personal observations can be matched with external observations, they form a more objective and genuine portrait. The observations started as field notes, scratch notes, and pictures, which I later transferred to MAXQDA to add to the data pool. These observations could be made anytime during the stay in Sisimiut, e.g., when I interviewed people, walked past construction sites, talked to the waiters, or in the outback.

Literature review

I have conducted literature reviews of 76 different documents and two videos which comprises scientific articles, newspaper articles, official regulations, legislative papers, Danish and Greenlandic media, and social media debates. I used this to build knowledge around the Greenlandic setting and off-site manufacturing to cross-reference the qualitative data.


Qualitative data collection and analysis was the primary approach for this research as there is only limited data on Greenlandic construction challenges and off-site manufacturing in the Arctic. Therefore, I had to personally collect empirical data to understand the context and analyze the challenges. I then developed a framework to code all this data. The framework consists of five perspectives: context, people, complexity, uncertainty, and purpose, with inspiration from J. Geraldi et al. (2017). These five perspectives were used for two purposes. 

  1. To code the qualitative data.
  2. To analyze the problem statement. 

I used tools related to these five perspectives to analyze the problem statement from different angles and check if my hypothesis holds.


Context is shaped by socio-culture and industry practices and is dependent on resources and institutions. Context is in the literature associated with the macro-environment, which comprises all larger social forces that affect the customer market. The purpose of analyzing the macro-environment is to form an understanding that enables appropriate adaptation to the context. The factors that affect the macro-environment are commonly known as PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal aspects). In the thesis, I analyze all these different aspects of the context through qualitative data.


Projects are managed through communication with stakeholders. Effective communication is thus recognized as a critical project success factor. According to Kuthilala (2014), a stakeholder's salience is decided by assessing the stakeholder's power, legitimacy, and urgency. The salience model can be used to identify the type of stakeholder, and following the suggestions from Gardner et al. (1989), this can be used to assess the stakeholder's influence and interest in the project, which finally helps to prioritize communication through a communication strategy. In the thesis, I made a stakeholder analysis to identify and analyze the necessary communicative relationships.


The development of an off-site manufacturing process and pairing that with the Greenlandic needs is a complex task. It calls for integrating diverse tools and knowledge bases across multiple parties, calling for the collaboration of people with different backgrounds and the reconciliation of stakeholders' different views and interests. Within the complexity perspective, I created two work breakdown structures to compare the tasks and costs of a conventional construction method with off-site construction. I then estimated different costs to highlight examples and to substantiate my findings.


Every project is unique and comes with unique unknowns, uncertainties, and risks. The uncertainty perspective is about mapping the uncertainties to understand their characteristics. By recognizing uncertainties, it is possible to develop a strategy to deal with the uncertain and unknowns that will reveal themselves ahead (J. Geraldi et al., 2017).
Evaluating the risk likelihood and impact gives a project team an efficient way to identify to what extent they can prevent the risk from influencing the project negatively. Documenting risks helps streamline goals and perceptions of the project, and I did this by creating a risk register.


The purpose is about identifying why we should do this project? - followed by what would it deliver?

Although purpose seems vital to projects, it has not traditionally been covered in best practices and guidelines for project management (J. Geraldi et al., 2017). Tools have been developed in the interface between organizational context and projects and are considered outside project management. The classic form of measuring a project's success is evaluating whether it meets time, cost, and scope constraints. However, researchers suggest that this traditional way of evaluating project success is not optimal on its own. Alternatively, one could consider and combine the three constraints with stakeholder satisfaction.

I utilized a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to summarize all the findings from the other perspectives to outline the purpose, rewards, and risks of developing off-site manufacturing of Greenlandic buildings.


Most construction efforts can reduce housing shortages by simply building more homes; however, the attractiveness of the construction method is guided by its implications relative to other solutions. The success criteria for developing off-site manufacturing of Greenlandic buildings are based on its' ability to reduce housing shortages by creating socially desirable homes of high quality that are faster and more affordable to construct relative to a conventional construction method. The following priority list elaborates on the success criteria

  1. To be socially attractive, off-site manufacturing of Greenlandic buildings must be adaptable to the Greenlandic context, respect Greenlandic culture, and account for Greenlandic challenges.
  2. The off-site constructions should be of high quality and live up to modern housing standards. They should be airtight but ventilated and be durable but easy to assemble and disassemble
  3. The off-site constructions should reduce construction time and make it easier to plan and manage timetables.
  4. The total construction cost of off-site constructions should be lower than with the conventional method, and the homes should consequently become more affordable for the residents.

The Greenlandic context

Greenland has a rich history of being subject to colonization, making Greenlanders less open to foreign interference. The Greenlandic population has lived in a society that has been in rapid change from local communities with an economic base in hunting and fishing to today's international wage worker society. This rapid change comes with some frustrations and with many people yearning for a simpler lifestyle. However, Greenlanders do not want to be without modern technology and welfare, and thus Greenlanders look to become self-sufficient before becoming a sovereign nation.

Greenlanders tend to feel excluded from certain decisions and policymaking regarding Greenland and feel Denmark is setting the agenda on the Greenlanders' behalf. This feeling of not being listened to is evident from multiple newspaper articles and observations made in Greenland and from recent media discussions like the documentary "Kampen om Grønland" by DR1 in 2020. In this documentary, the viewer is presented with multiple experiences and statements by Greenlanders about self-reliance and independence.

Handlinger tilknyttet webside

Senest opdateret 25. november 2021