With modular homes on the rise, it seems to be time to bid farewell to long months and even years of construction and salute fast-paced, pre-fabricated systems arriving across the globe. At the Royal Academy in London as part of the Inside Out exhibition, Richard Rogers’ firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) has introduced an innovative, environmentally efficient, three-and-a-half story home called the Homeshell. It is meant to inspire discussion about affordable mass housing. The flat-packed home on display contains individually installed windows and boasts a low environmental impact. Colorful facade materials enliven the closed timber frame system. Above: Construction crews raise the building from scratch to fill the courtyard in minutes, piece by piece. Constructed of Insulshell—a malleable, cost- and energy-efficient building system developed by Sheffield Insulated Group and Cox Bench—the Homeshell arrives as flat-pack panels on a single truck and takes a mere 24 hours to construct on site using tilt-up construction techniques. Within the structure, visitors can watch a time-lapse film of the construction and learn how the building system fits together. The Homeshell is open to the public until September 8, and then the installation will be disassembled and recreated in Mitcham, where it will serve as the showhouse for the YMCA South West Y:Cube Housing project’s potential tenants, designed by RSHP. According to RSHP senior partner Ivan Harbour, the Homeshell “delivers generous space, exceptional insulation, daylight and acoustics. We believe it holds many answers for well-designed and sustainable urban living and could change the way we think about our housing into the future. Having it at the Royal Academy will provoke debate about how architectural innovation might help us meet the UK’s housing needs—for everyone.”
Posts tagged with "prefabricated":
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] World-renowned designer Philippe Starck has earned yet another feather for his cap in a recent collaboration with Riko, a European manufacturer of sustainable wooden buildings. Stemming from a drive to develop industrially manufactured homes that fulfill housing needs across the globe, the pair created P.A.T.H. (Prefabricated Accessible Technological Homes), a line of 34 turnkey homes merging timeless design, advanced technology, functionality, and sustainability. P.A.T.H. can be customized from layout and interior finishes to distinctive facades and roofing. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Each P.A.T.H. model is characterized by Starck’s signature design, yet homeowners choose each aspect to create their unique spaces. The pre-fab homes provide a range of housing models that vary in size, number of rooms, levels and floor plans. A configurator allows homeowners to browse and select their preferred models. In the early planning stage, all details of the home are meticulously engineered and rendered. Then, bulky building elements such as walls and roof structures are prefabricated, filled with insulation and finished with closing panels in a strictly controlled fabrication facility. The prefabrication system shrinks the amount of time necessary for on-site assembly, which takes several weeks following the completion of the initial infrastructure and foundation. Two months are necessary for electrical and mechanical installations and to outfit the home with the selected finishes. Total time from start to finish is six months. The most sophisticated sustainable construction engineering has been utilized in developing P.A.T.H. Only high-quality, environmentally friendly materials are used throughout the production and building process. Wood has been selected as the system’s main building material since it is natural and renewable, giving the homes zero-energy or even positive-energy potential. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter]
At Tuesday's groundbreaking of B2, the first 32-story residential tower to be built at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New Yorkers got a sneak peek at how the world’s tallest modular building will be constructed. Just beyond the podium stood what officials call the “chassis,” a steel framed box that makes up an essential structural element of the building. “You don’t need to compromise on design when it comes to modular,” said Developer Bruce Ratner. Located on the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, the SHoP Architects-designed tower will rise above the Barclay Center, also designed by SHoP, and offer 363 units split evenly between affordable housing and market rate units. Ratner told the audience that the affordable units at Atlantic Yards will be equipped with the exact same appliances and amenities as the market rate apartments: “You will not know an affordable unit from a market rate unit.” The bulk of the construction of the modular components will happen in a 100,000 square-foot space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with the help of 125 unionized workers, which MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial and residential development at Forest City Ratner, said would help in the “reduction of traffic, dust, and waste” and Mayor Bloomberg hailed as “cheaper and less disruptive.” B2 is just the first of more than a dozen residential buildings to come.
In a neighborhood of glass and steel, Fiterman Hall stands out. The new building, part of the CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College downtown campus, is designed by Pei Cobb Freed and sits adjacent to the World Trade Center. The 17-story building is fronted in large prefabricated red-brick panels rhythmically relieved by square glass windows revealing multilevel interior atria. At a cost of $325 million, this is not your grandmother's little red schoolhouse. The vertical seams between the brick-faced precast panels betray the interlocking nature of classic red brick and the smooth prefab surface contrasts the tactile quality of hand laid masonry. Regardless, the panels certainly place Fiterman apart as an institutional structure amidst corporate America’s continued penchant for glass. Brick paneling is hardly new, but with prefabricated buildings making inroads, it’s hard not to view them as another form of value engineering requiring less union hands at the construction site. But David Sovinski, director of industry development for the International Masonry Institute (IMI), said that their membership doesn’t have a problem with the material. IMI is an alliance between the International Union of Bricklayers, Allied Craftworkers, and contractors who promote masonry construction. He noted that IMI union members are better trained to install the panels, as they are with most enclosure methods except glazing. Their main goal, regardless of the method, is to keep trained union hands on the site. “They get man hours off all kinds of construction,” said Sovinski. “You can always go to a factory in rural Pennsylvania for nonunion cheaper labor, but our training is more productive. If you use a trained craft person you don’t get callbacks to fix mistakes.” The completion of Fiterman Hall is probably one of the more high profile uses of the material in Manhattan, but with the Gotham West tower swiftly rising on Eleventh Avenue and 44th Street, it won’t be the largest. There, more than 1,200 apartments will stretch over almost an entire city block. Gotham’s 11th Avenue tower and midblock low-rise are already getting brick panels slapped on as fast as you can say "prefab." Once again, at Gotham, the panels appear smooth, uniform, and manufactured. “I prefer laid in place, I think it’s a better system,” admitted Sovinski. “When you see these fake solutions, it just looks poor.”
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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.