The Leadenhall Building at 122 Leadenhall Street in London, also known affectionately as the Cheesegrater due to its unique shape, is 47-stories tall and is the UK’s 4th largest building. Featuring a cutting edge high-performance building envelope incorporating passive heating and cooling elements, 85% of its construction took place off-site, making it one of the largest and most complex prefabricated projects to date. (more…)

Modular construction—using prefabricated building components to rapidly assemble complete structures—has garnered significant interest in the industry over the last decade or so.

An innovative startup out of the UK, Kite Brick Ltd, has come up with a downright playful approach to modular construction. The so-called smart bricks that are being prototyped by the company (US patent pending) is constructed of high-strength concrete with a number of desirable characteristics:

  • Easily assembled
  • Internal spaces within the blocks for insulation and infrastructure elements
  • Excellent thermal properties to reduce energy consumption
  • Greatly reduced on-site waste
  • Extremely resilient
  • Incredibly versatile: applicable to residential and non-residential, buildings, bridges and even sidewalks

According to Smithsonian.com:

In comparison to standard bricks or concrete blocks — dumb blocks, I suppose — the Smart Brick claims to offer greater thermal energy control, lower construction costs and greater versatility. The specially formulated concrete blocks are designed to be easily connected and include an internal space for the building’s insulation, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems. Removable panels make it easy to install and access the building’s infrastructure. They can be easily assembled with just a little industrial double-sided tape and fit with custom finishing, so, like Lego, there’s “no additional need to paint, hang wallpaper or otherwise treat the outer and inner walls of the final structure.” This is all better explained by the following promotional video, according to which, one day Smart Bricks will be installed by robots.

Source: Smithsonian.com

Below is a video from the manufacturer:

A colleague sent this to me just now. BROAD Sustainable Building Co., LTD accomplished a fascinating feat through pre-fabrication of erecting an entire 30-story hotel in just 15 days. The project is located in the Hunan province of Southern China and was designed/engineered to be incredibly energy efficient, with less than 1% construction waste, as well as promoting indoor air quality much cleaner than the outside air. A time-lapse video is below: