Building with a Kit of Parts, Big and Small

There is a reason that Legos are the perennial toy of generations, and are just one amongst scores of building systems comprised of standardized, repeating, interchangeable pieces.  Building with a kit of parts opens up posibilites of scale and speed that are impossible when dealing with non-standard systems.  We see this from toys, to real world systems like Unistrut, to the increasingly popular realm of prefab housing.  In fact, a quick search of prefab housing and shipping containers show how much activity is based on converting these ubiquitous, uniform shells into functional architecture.  Most current prefabs are targeted as high end, isolated structures, are shipping containers are being adapted for unintended uses.  Into this void has stepped SLI, Sustainable Living Innovations, who have created a system to quickly build a low to medium rise building out of prefabricated parts.

Today, after several years of research and development, SLI has arrived. It is the most flexible, efficient, custom housing product on the market AND the only pre-fabricated system on the market that is scalable for mid-rise structures. Pre-finished components constructed off-site combined with breakthrough design and engineering result in a faster construction timeline, which means the product is faster to market. And the money saved in labor costs can be put into high-quality materials that enhance value and durability, ultimately delivering a better overall lifestyle experience to residents.

The results are compelling: higher quality buildings built in half the time of conventional wood frame construction; lower operating and maintenance costs, high levels of sustainability “baked-in” and guaranteed pricing and delivery.

Below you can see a video of how their system is implemented to construct a building.

Part of the reasoning behind this project is not just the interest or environmental factors of this type of construction, bu the growing economic necessity.

The group agreed that in the current market, the standard commercial building process was no longer a viable business model and the new economic realities would fundamentally change the way buildings would be built.

These advantages inherent in using a standardized kit make it appealing beyond the world of architecture, as we saw earlier this year with the Global Village Construction Set.  It is also the thinking behind the Kickstarter funded, recently launched MakerBeam project, and opensource, Mini-T style building system targeted towards the hobbyist, tinkerer, hacker community.  The kit itself is comprised of beams and joints that can be connected by nuts and bolts.

So what could you make with these?  Well, potentially this.

People are encouraged to develop their own custom connectors for attaching different components, and the scale is targeted at matching nicely with hobby boards like the arduino and mounting components like servo motors.  On their Kickstarter page, you can see their video demonstrating just some of the possibilities that this system opens up.  Having successfully been funded, MakerBeam has launched (though their official site is currently a placeholder), and you can buy the starter kit through Sparkfun.

Via Fast Company, Grist, and MAKE

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