Wandering through Ausstellung Eigenheim & Garten prefabricated homes near Stuttgart, Germany, you might find yourself admiring the sauna in the bathroom or the bright espresso bar in the kitchen. There are books on the bookshelves, flowers in the vases, and a working coffee machine. And there are stringent eco-standards holding it all together.
Each house in the 60-home village is a prefabricated structure. Ausstellung Eigenheim & Garten (which roughly translates to “my home and garden”) is the marketing company that provides the infrastructure of roads, outdoor space, parks and gardens so that various manufacturers can assemble and display homes. For just a small admission fee, visitors can tour the model homes and experience this way of living.
And this way of living involves eco-friendly construction. These homes are built to be energy-efficient by meeting strict German and European building codes. As the homes are constructing off-site, it is easier to make airtight and well-insulated walls. Further, the insulation is mostly comprised of wood shavings or rock wool.
Baufritz, one of the prefab companies featured in the village, specializes in all-natural materials such as organic paints. What’s more, on-site prefab construction is more eco-friendly than building off site. (This is, of course, not accounting for the carbon emission factor that comes from transporting materials across the world.) Owners are in their homes much faster than those using traditional construction. As Ausstellung Eigenheim & Garten Chief Executive Andreas Speer tells it, “A prefab house exterior can be completed in one to three days.”
When Ausstellung Eigenheim & Garten was founded in 1971, they were the first prefab company to open model homes in Europe. But the concept grew in show villages across Germany and Austria. Presently, 63 companies from Germany, Scandinavia and Italy display 250 model houses in four sites across Germany, plus one in Switzerland.
And who is buying them? People come from all over Germany and Europe to see the houses. There has been an increase in the number of visitors from China. In fact, the people of Ausstellung Eigenheim & Garten like to point out a photograph of an enormous German prefab house that's being built between the skyscrapers of Beijing.
The age of the buyers is also changing. According to Speer, “A few years ago it was mostly young families with children, but these days it is older couples whose children have left the nest.”
In the end, marketing officer Nina Eschenbacher tells it a little differently: “Most (buyers) come to look and be nosey … There’s something fascinating about looking in homes. People come to get ideas about how to do their interior design and look at the furniture.”