You can’t change gridlines in midspan

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While I agree with Archidose that this video is a wonderful way of presenting the design concept and understand that this house is just a study in the use of wood structural panels and not intended for construction, the engineer in me groaned at the way in which the walls were completely discontinuous across the 2nd floor.  Modular prefab construction in wood and concrete is often unfairly maligned as cheap or ugly and there’s certainly ample ability to attain architecturally compelling forms with prefab materials.

But know your material.  You’re going to have a hard time using one replicable panel design if every panel is loaded differently by the floor above.  If you’re using an off-the-shelf panel, it almost certainly will not have been engineered to recieve the large point loads caused by upper walls framing orthogonally past lower walls.  Or to cantilever.  Or to be a floor system subject to a highly irregular load patterm.

All this means multiple custom panels are required, which is very doable, but as each piece becomes specialized you’re getting less and less value out of the prefab system you’ve adopted.  Of course you can treat the panels as mere partitions and provide a separate system of columns and beams, but at that point the prefab panels are an aesthetic gimmick rather than a structural system, and you’ve abandoned the study’s premise of building out of one sustainable material as well as the authors fealty to Miesish “honest express of materials.”

Typically I’m completely for untethering conceptual models from practical constraints in order to move the creative process forward, but simply using materials in ways they weren’t intended and in ways they work poorly is not a creative achievement; you also must arrive at elegant ways to make the novel applications work.

1 comment to You can’t change gridlines in midspan

  • Great stuff here!
    Containers, prefabracted steel, modular, prefab homes and buildings will offer solutions to the world’s building and housing shortage for the deprived, under-privileged and low income populations in society by providing a total system for basic, low-cost, quality built housing. The modular housing constructed with sandwich panels is the lowest in cost, most rapidly erected, simplest in design, and most structurally sound basic housing in existence today. Plus, you can ship 21 houses in a 40 foot container.
    The information on this page pertains to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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