Admittedly, this is a little strange, but clearly could be a practical measure in certain parts of the world.

Dahir Insaat Corporation is a Turkish company that specializes in pre-fab cast-in-place construction buildings ranging in size from a small cottage to an entire apartment block.

The company also has developed a design concept for an “earthquake safety bed” design to quickly (perhaps almost violently) swallow the bed’s occupant whole within an industrial strength steel shell in the event of an earthquake or building collapse.

Rather than try to explain the concept any further, here is a video:

Disruption is a word that is overused in Silicon Valley, and elsewhere in the tech world. The idea is that sometimes a new player comes along with an approach to doing things in such a radically different way that it disrupts the entire industry.

With advancements such as building information modeling (BIM), virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR), semi-private cloud-sharing of information, drone photography, the Internet of Things (IoT), prefabrication and/or modular construction, 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and so on and so forth… — the construction industry of the next couple decades will look absolutely nothing like the previous couple decades.

(more…)

Earlier this week, I shared an article that touted all the amazing benefits to be gained from prefabricating some assemblies offsite. So how long will it be before the entire construction industry shifts to a paradigm in which building consists primarily of assembling prefabricated components?

FMI, a management consulting firm that specializes in nonresidential construction, recently conducted a survey of 200 firms on their knowledge, use and strategy for implementing Building Information Modeling (BIM) and prefabrication. ENR’s Jim Parsons shares some insight from one of the study’s authors:

Right now, it is hardly surprising that contractors’ opinions and results are mixed, Hoover says. “We’re in a messy transition of baby boomers who want to hold on to old ways and new people coming in,” she says. “The better companies are luring younger workers who can deal with technology and understand change, and they’re the ones who will make prefabrication happen.”

Indeed, Hoover says prefabrication’s growth in construction may well be inevitable as its advantages continue to overshadow current work practices. “If you’re not willing to do things that will reduce schedule by 50%, reduce risk and improve safety, you’ll be out of it,” she adds.

Ultimately, what may attract more GCs and specialty contractors to understanding, adopting and improving their prefab mind-set is the same trend that affects other aspects of the industry—labor.

In other words, the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality is still a major driver of key construction strategic decisions.

Marriott is going modular in a major way. By prefabricating portions of hotels off-site in controlled environments, and then assembling the modular components, the hotel chain sees numerous advantages. With one prefab modular hotel already operational, the company is now planning to pursue the process on up to 50 more.

Clayton Moore, of Digital Tends, has more:

“As construction costs are at a peak, it’s a real challenge to find good, qualified subcontractors based on the general building boom that is happening throughout the United States,” explained Jacobs. “We ‘re on pace to approve another 400 to 450 hotels this year and we think we can influence ten percent of those projects with modular construction. If we can cut four to six months off of a typical development timeline of 12 to 14 months, that’s a significant savings for our owners.”

Jacobs explained that the package that arrives at a build site contains two fully finished rooms and a finished hallway, as well as all the accouterments one ordinarily finds in a hotel room. Subcontractors on site then finish the electrical and plumbing connections.

“From a staging perspective, our waste goes from four to six percent down to two or three percent,” Jacobs said. “The big takeaway from this process is that we can completely control the quality of the product. Much like the industrial assembly lines used in other sectors, we can identify quality issues right as the rooms come off the assembly line, and find solutions before they ever get shipped to the site. It’s a pretty impactful way to produce a furnished building at the end of the day.”

Here’s a time-lapse video of the construction — perhaps “assembly” is a more accurate term — of the Pullman Courtyard Marriott:

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: