Posts tagged with "Prefab":
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Built to withstand extreme weather conditions, the alpine pod explores new frontiers for prefabricated architectureClimbers on the Freboudze glacier can now take refuge from the punishing terrain of the Italian Alps thanks to a new prefabricated shelter commissioned by Italian alpine club CAI Torino. The New Gervasutti Refuge, which cantilevers from the rocky landscape in front of the east face of the Mont Blanc Range’s Grandes Jorasses, was designed and fabricated by LEAPfactory, an Italian firm specializing in modular structures with low environmental impact. LEAPfactory, whose name stands for Living, Ecological, Alpine Pod, began designing the shelter in 2009. Its construction bears little resemblance to that of traditional alpine structures; instead, LEAP used nautical and aeronautical fabrication techniques to create a self-sufficient pod that could withstand extreme high-altitude conditions. The team used finite element analysis to apply wind loads of up to 124 miles/hour and snow loads more than 26 feet deep, while keeping in mind the weight of furnishings and occupants inside. The structure’s primary components were prefabricated by infusing glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) into female molds with PVC cores. These pieces are glued together with methyl methacrylate-based adhesives. Luca Olivari, the project’s structural engineer, applied his expertise in designing boats and high-speed train components to the Gervasutti Refuge project. In a Q&A with Composites and Architecture, a blog by composite fabrication expert Bill Kreysler, Olivari said GFRP is an ideal material for extreme conditions because the fiber’s weight and orientation can be precisely defined in every area of the structure to support high concentrated loads. “The sandwich construction is the best way to absorb and distribute elastically the stresses of the wind gusts and the snow weight,” he said. Additionally, the components were strong and stiff enough to be transported by helicopter to the mountainside site. The shelter is designed for strength outside, but its high-visibility pattern, reminiscent of a classic ski sweater, is meant to welcome mountaineers—as are its interiors. Lit with daylight through a panoramic, anti-scratch acrylic window overlooking the valley below, the 250-square-foot pod has kitchen, dining and living areas, twelve bunks and storage space for gear, as well as a built-in weather monitoring station. Photovoltaic panels integrated into the hut’s outer shell produce 2.5 Kwh of solar energy. The entire structure weighs almost 3 tons and cost the equivalent of nearly $327,000. With individual modules designed for specific functions like eating or sleeping, LEAP’s design allows the pod to be rearranged or expanded over time. The design also allows for replacement of one module should it be seriously damaged. As the LEAPfactory team studies how their first installed shelter withstands conditions in its new home, they will be making plans to deploy similar helicopter-delivered structures in other mountainous locations—a reward for anyone willing to make the trip on foot.
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A coffee stand prototype explores new possibilities for small-scale modular construction.As part of a push to get its products into the hands of young architects, the Alpolic division of Mitsubishi Plastics sponsored a spring design/build studio entitled “Rapid type” at the California College of the Arts (CCA). The goal was for 15 students, led by CCA adjunct architecture professors Andre Caradec and Kory Bieg, to explore new design uses and assembly techniques for Alpolic aluminum composite materials (ACM), which are most commonly used for exterior cladding and signage. The students had at their disposal not only the school’s resources, but also those of Bieg’s San Francisco-based design and fabrication firm OTA+ and Caradec’s Oakland-based design and fabrication firm, Studio Under Manufacture (SUM). Given the college’s location at the nexus of a burgeoning San Francisco food truck scene and students’ proclivity for caffeine, the team landed on design of a mobile coffee service unit as a means of testing Alpolic’s limits. The team envisioned a structure that was reliable and cost-effective while bringing a higher level of design and prefabrication to the food truck industry, which has received a boost in Northern California due to relaxed permitting and code requirements. After feasibility and marketing studies, the team began to design a rolling steel structure wrapped in a waffle grid of Alpolic. The cart would shade employees inside while incorporating a wraparound counter that would allow customers to linger or talk shop with the barista after placing their order. Though an encircling plywood base supports the grid structure overhead, the interior is floorless; employees stand on the ground at the same level as patrons. “It also makes cleanup easier,” jokes Caradec. The 9-by-11-by-8-foot structure sits on industrial casters, allowing it to be pulled into place by a vehicle or by hand. The team designed the cart’s waffle grid in Rhino, with each rib section connecting the corresponding perpendicular section with a long notch. After assembling a scale cardboard model, fabrication of 80 ribs from sheets of 62-by-196-inch Mist White Alpolic began in SUM’s shop using a three-axis CNC mill. Exterior plywood shear panels and ribs for the counter and service window structure were milled on the same machine. Those ribs were then wrapped in waterjet-cut 16-gauge mild steel to create the completed work surface. Once interior Alpolic milling was complete, exterior plywood was installed over the hollow steel frame and final measurements for exterior ribs were verified before milling. After interior and exterior structures were built, the countertop structure was put into place. The entire project was manufactured and assembled in less than a week—in time for the students’ final review, complete with coffee service. Caradec’s firm recently applied a similar concept to a prefabricated studio. The design is the workspace version of the coffee station, an 8-by-10-by-8-foot-high office for a writer who requested that the space allow him to recline, sit, and stand during the workday. Like the coffee station, the box is built with white Alpolic sheets, but these have been routed on one side, then folded to create a faceted shape. Because of the panels’ construction, they create a hermetic exterior even after folding. A 14-inch marine-grade teak window wraps the structure, creating visibility from any position. The coffee station prototype design has already received attention from investors interested in putting a line of prefabricated food service stations into production. And other iterations, like the writers studio, could create a new generation of prefabricated structures for a range of applications. “The design can be based on the environment it’s going into,” says Caradec.
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A custom-built environment allows faculty and students to work collaboratively at a new academic center in the Bronx.Doban Architecture has a longstanding history with Monroe College. In 2009, the Brooklyn-based firm founded by Susan Doban completed a modular pod design for the Bronx school’s loft-style dormitories at 565 Main Street, a building for which they had also worked on an award-winning facade restoration. Last fall, the firm completed a renovation of the school’s 2,360-square-foot academic center with a scheme that allows students and faculty to interact in a collaborative environment. Neither of these projects would have been possible without Think Fabricate, the firm’s sister company. Co-founded by Doban and Jason Gorsline in November 2009, the design studio handles design projects across a range of disciplines—furniture, product, graphic, and industrial—in addition to operating its own fabrication shop in a shared East Williamsburg workspace. The academic center’s mission of tutoring students in English and math challenged Think Fabricate to design furnishings that would create a functional environment for students and teachers, some of whom would have an office there. “The student body has a lot of adult learners and people taking classes in the evening,” said Doban. “The college wanted the academic center to be really appealing to students, and they wanted faculty to be drawn to the space as well.” Oriented in storefront spaces off the Main Hall’s corridor, the academic center is distinguished by dark colors and a new security and reception desk, while glass in a range of transparencies lets students see in and out. In the main workspace, laminate tables allow two students and a teacher to share a sliding white board or computer, for which each individual has his own keyboard. Group meeting tables are similarly designed for collaboration with a “headless” shape, where anyone can be seen as the table’s leader. Built-in maple and laminate seating nooks further encourage students to congregate and share ideas. Nearby, five prefabricated offices function as cubicles for faculty. “The appeal is that they don’t look like cubicles,” said Doban. Designed as one-on-one meeting spaces, each office has a built-in workstation and four walls, one of which is a sliding door mounted on Haefele hardware hidden in the header of the office system. The panelized walls are a combination of maple, chosen for appearance, price, and durability and milled with CNC equipment, and pre-laminated Panel-Lam sheets. As in its dormitory project, Think Fabricate opted to work with Panel-Lam because of its range of colors and textures coupled with its relatively low cost and durability. Because the material is slightly brittle, the approximately 4-foot-square, ¾-inch-thick sheets are cut with a table saw. “We try to minimize material waste so we weren’t really considerate of the grain directions at all times,” said Gorsline, whose background is in furniture design and fabrication. “It became another detail of the system.” Wall panels were prefabricated in the workshop, then attached with screws to wooden frames. Save for the corner office, the cubes are 6 by 8 feet, providing enough room for a student and teacher to sit comfortably. Hall-facing panels have windows to ensure the rooms are never fully closed off, and if the offices ever need to be moved or reconfigured, the system can easily be broken down and relocated. Doban and Gorsline see the prefabricated offices as a prototype design that could work in a range of settings; they plan to explore mass and limited production options in the future. In the meantime, they are perfecting the design by hand.