A review of trends towards modular, adaptive ‘P2P’ architecture

Detailed discussion by Eric Hunting:

“The ideal situation for P2P architecture is where you can produce structures of small to large scale using intuitively simple modular systems with components on a human scale that are easy for the solitary individual to manipulate and which encode aspects of safety and structural engineering into their interface standards in the same way that the sub-components in a personal computer encode lower levels of engineering into them so that assembly and design higher up the food chain doesn’t have to think much about them. This is the province of true plug-in architecture systems. We’re not quite there yet technologically but there are some things pointing in the direction.

I’ve been talking a lot in recent years about a system I’ve dubbed Utilihab, which is a generic name I’ve given to a series of building systems based on aluminum T-slot framing as used in industrial automation and which go by such names as Tomahouse/Tomatech, Jeriko House, iT House, Kit Haus, etc. I’ve personally worked with Tomahouse and Jeriko House.

You can see these here;

* http://www.tomahouse.com/

* http://jerikohouse.com/

* http://www.tkithouse.com/

The designs take their cues from classic Modernists but the structural system derives from Japanese/Polynesian pavilion architecture such as traditional Japanese homes and more recent derivatives like the modular resort cottage homes of Tony Gwilliam’s Bali-T houses, based on traditional Indonesian ironwood post&beam framing with a synthesis of Asian and Modernist-Minimalist design.

The concept of aluminum profile based modular housing may actually have its origins with profile based housing developed in the late 1940s by Jacque Fresco -who some may recall as the itinerant inventor and futurist founder of the Venus Project. This was very radical for the aluminum industry of the time, with extruders few and timid about pushing their equipment to the limits -something American extruders seem to have never gotten over to this day. Alas, he was also never a particularly smart businessman and came from an era long prior to the notion of open source…

The current forms of this building system tend to be based on 240mm-250mm square aluminum primary frame profiles with two or four T-slot channels per face and secondary and floor/ceiling grid framing of 120x240mm and 120mm square -usually based on newer and larger standardized profiles (60mm series) and sometime with custom profiles, though there’s no particular advantage to that over the standard industrial profiles except for profiles with integral thermal breaks. (used when designers want the framing to be visible externally as an architectural detail) Some companies still have compulsively old-fashioned thinking and so try to employ custom profiles as a gimmick to lock-in market share -which is sort of silly given that, currently, there is no established ‘market’ to divvy up! Trusses are also possible for much larger unit spans and particularly convenient using ready-made ‘web plates’ that slip and lock between a pair of profiles to link them into a truss beam. Buildings are composed of simple post&beam structures with a typical 4 meter square unit module supporting 1 meter floor/ceiling grids (actually, a meter plus interstitial frame thickness) and then finished in various forms of non-load-bearing pre-finished retrofit paneling, concealment strips, and planking. Light panels, usually about a meter wide, use pop-in or friction mount attachment while exterior walls use bolt or other mechanical attachment and have interstitial volume for insulation, where not using some for of SIP. Some fixtures are designed to attach to the framing slots in the same way accessory components are added to industrial automation structures and with the hollow channels within the framing sometimes serving extra duty as utilities conduits. Typical structures are one or two storeys high, but the systems have been rated for ten storey structures -usually with the addition of things like cross-brace tension cables and gusset plates.

Though some developers have patented special profiles and connector designs only they use, the T-slot framing technology itself is largely public domain. In fact, none of the manufacturers of T-slot parts for industrial automation seem to have any clear picture of it’s origins, which may go back to some time very early in the 20th century -most-likely the 1920s when things like ball socket space frames appeared, though T-slot attachment schemes with machine tools and optical benches go back well into the 19th century. Companies sort of sprang-up simultaneously around the globe and started making this for industrial automation use in the late 1970s, with all of them thinking/claiming they had invented it then suddenly finding everyone else’s prior art. It was almost like Sheldrake’s Morphic Field effect.

This ‘frame and panel’ system -along with similar space frame variants like Universal Node System/Min-A-Max- is one of a couple basic forms of small component plug-in architecture currently being developed; the other key one being ‘planar backplane’ systems as explored in Shigeru Ban’s Furniture House series. Here the structure of homes consist of largely independent floor and ceiling plane elements composed of a modular planar grid. These are then supported by strong modular furniture units serving triple-duty as load-bearing structural support, partitions, and active furnishing elements. These planar backplane elements become very similar in character to the motherboards of backplanes of computers, determining the attachment grid for the other components and integrating most infrastructure and climate control systems. This is a potentially more advanced system because of the potential to integrate a great deal of technology within the structural elements while being intuitively simple for the user, though more limited in overall structural shapes. Users can basically design on-the-fly by the simple arrangement of these modular furniture elements, keeping within simple limits of span, cantilever, and vertical load communication according to the planar grid. This set of structural rules is easily automated by having the backplane of the house made digitally active, a ‘structural integrity network’ basically live-modeling the house by identifying the parts plugged into it and graphically communicating to users where their changes approach safety limits and showing them when parts are broken, worn, or stressed. Frame and panel systems like Utilihab are likely to evolve toward or be superseded by planar backplane systems in the future, based on these advantages. However, that form of technology is much less developed and, to be fully demountable and freely adaptive (which Shigeru Ban’s designs aren’t as yet), requires much more sophisticated component interfacing and integral structural intelligence.

Though these technologies aren’t ready for immediate large projects like relief efforts (the companies I noted all are still stuck making prefab luxury homes -even though most have relief/low-cost housing aspirations of one kind or another), they’re ready for discrete housing and experimental use. (I plan to use these for my own home in the near future) Their chief functional limitation is roofing technology. We still haven’t devised a practical means of fully demountable small component modular roofing that’s freely extensible/variable in two directions. There’s a lot of room here for innovation and it’s accessible given that you can base these on the off-the-shelf components of the industrial automation industry. But it is pretty sophisticated and needs comprehensive fabrication facilities and engineering to push the envelope.

What’s really significant about these technologies is that, in order to develop them effectively, one has to employ a completely different industrial model than has been common to the Industrial Age. They need ‘industrial ecologies’ like that of the computer industry, where your products represent open ‘platforms’ based on p2p defined standards supported by ecologies of competitive product developers in a food chain of sub-component integration. This is the world-changing part. This is what made the computer industry different from all other previous forms of industrial development and is why this most complicated of all artifacts ever devised has enjoyed such an unprecedented pace of evolution, so very quickly transforming from rare 100 million dollar behemoths to small, ubiquitous, and cheap enough that some homeless people can afford them and simple enough that a child can assemble them from parts made around the world and it will work perfectly the first time it’s turned on.

There is much that can be done on the level of simpler and even lighter technology, though the application to permanent housing gets trickier the less physically robust structures are. From a nomadic architecture standpoint, it’s hard to improve on the accumulated experience embodied in traditional technologies of nomadic cultures. There’s a sort of singular refined perfection in the yurt, tipi, lavvu, bedouin tent, Romany caravan, etc. that only -and rarely- gets improved upon with new materials and fastener technology. (tension structure materials like ETFE and teflon impregnated fiberglass cloth like Sheerfill, new cable materials, and fasteners like Grip-Clips) However, traditional nomadic architecture evolved in a context of large open spaces and extremely light lifestyles of minimal personal possessions (though traditional Tuvan furniture -albeit designed to be portable- is, thanks to Chinese influence, often far from what might be called ‘light’) So these structures don’t integrate well into an urban environment. Proponents of the original Urban Nomad movement, such as Ken Isaacs, sought first to focus on the re-appropriation and adaptive reuse of found urban space -primarily indoors. This was the premise behind Isaacs’ ‘Living Structures’; the simple wood framed multi-function ‘furnitecture’ that produced the Box Beam and now Grid Beam building systems. Relying on another larger enclosure structure to provide the more basic environmental shelter, one can employ much more freely adaptive structures within them and use very simple modular component systems.

I recently proposed a p2p architecture experiment based on this called Vivarium whose premise was to repurpose a generic commercial/industrial urban space as a community-evolved recreation facility based on the notion recreational architecture -building structures as group play- using Grid Beam and Living Structures. One would simply repurpose a functionally generic space, like a warehouse, into a recreational space based on the participants’ individual and collective notions of fun, pleasure, and comfort as realized in structures they alternately individually or collectively build and combine, through negotiation, into the space. So in this context the Grid Beam system is being used like an adult Tinker Toy system with which to spontaneously build furnishings and structures. This seemed a fun and ‘low stakes’ setting in which to explore p2p community design concepts.

Many kinds of small light ‘furnitecture’ are possible and suited to this sort of sheltered generic space environment. The Japanese Capsule Hotel unit is a good model here that can be explored in many variations. I think it was Archigram that, in the 60s, experimented with ‘pod living’ based on the idea of using generic open dwelling space to host functional rooms in the form of enclosed appliance-like furniture unit pods that could be freely moved about. (an idea reinvented today with the rooms of Shigeru Ban’s Naked House, which I’ll link to shortly) Such pods are possible with many different materials, such as T-slot, light space frames, and rigid composite shell units and fabric covered structural foam that have the option to be used outdoors. I once considered the idea of making a slightly larger form of Japanese Capsule Hotel unit into a rigid composite shell microcabin, complete with solar power, communications, and other gear built-in, that could be pulled on bicycle wheels and provide a highly insulated durable alternative to tents at a lower cost than trailers. Though bulkier than tents when moved, fabric covered structural foam cabin pods would also be suited to this application. N55 explored a similar idea called Snail Shell System based on repurposing a rotomolded HDPE tank. Andrea Zittel explored this concept in the form of a stationary variant of the traditional ‘teardrop’ trailer called the Wagon Station.

Wanting to move beyond the limits of the found urban space, Isaacs also explored the microcabin/microhouse concept based on stressed skin plywood structures. An interesting aspect of this in the p2p context is that he devised the use of these with external multi-level frame structures based on modular pipe fittings like Kee Klamp that would externally support complexes of these microhouses up to several storeys high. The intention was to use these to host small constantly evolving villages. You can visualize these as open scaffold-like structures sprawling volumetrically which the microhouses could rest in, each module fitting within the unit cubic grid space. These would include decking, walkways, screens, and simple corrugated metal roofing in different areas, all of it freely demountable. Problem was that Isaacs never found a good way to waterproof his microhouse designs and the plywood of the time was pretty crude, giving these microhouses a short life span. This was similar to an early plug-in architecture concept based on large space frame structures that complexes of pod-like room modules would be suspended within. Sometimes proposed for megastructure architecture, one of the most interesting forms of this was based on webs of tension cables suspended between canyon walls into which whole cities might be retrofit as complexes of suspended pods and decks. More recently, this same concept re-emerged with the Shimizu Try 2004 megacity concept where such pods were taken to the scale of whole skyscrapers suspended within a space frame pyramid. Rather over-the-top, but you can easily imagine how this works at a more human scale.

This concept of adaptive structures sheltered by larger structures extends to more permanent -or should we say ‘continuous’- habitats based on purposely built ‘skybreaks’. The term ‘skybreak’ originates with students of Buckminster Fuller who proposed the concept as the ideal approach to the use of the geodesic dome for housing. Typical dome homes are based on using a dome in much the same way one uses the basic frame of a house, which is then partitioned into rooms. This has never worked particularly well with the dome shape. Fuller’s student’s realized that a more appropriate role for the dome was as a large area shelter against the extremes of the basic elements -a largely independent barrier or shield against the rain, wind, and greater temperature extremes. Thus one would shelter one’s whole ‘lot’ space with a dome that could be open on the perimeter in warm weather and inside which one would cultivate a garden environment and build light freely-changed structures to actually inhabit and provide the functions of different rooms. Essentially, it’s like using a greenhouse to shelter another lighter house. Decoupled from the function of weatherproofing, these light internal structures would use materials not normally practical and could get away with modular systems that were easy to owner-assemble but not yet sophisticated enough to be weatherproofed. The catch with the idea was that it wasn’t until close to Fuller’s own death that silicone sealed planar glazing systems and ETFE based ‘pillow panel’ systems were devised to make the transparent skybreak a practical concept. (Fuller’s earlier attempts with translucent plastic sometimes failed dramatically)

This isn’t actually that radical or new a concept. It originates with the pavilion architecture of Asia and Polynesia where traditional housing never used load-bearing walls but instead relied on clear-span post and beam structures that created functionally generic space made functional by mobile furnishings and light, sometimes free-standing, screens and partitions. This later inspired the Modernists, the concept made iconic by Philip Johnson’s New Canaan CT Glass House then reapplied in thousands of variations. I personally consider the pavilion the most practical form of housing in the contemporary cultural context, particularly for non-toxic home applications, though it doesn’t suit the conventional western suburban environment where you have no use of walled enclosures as in Asia (because western suburbs are about the public display of social status and affluence, not about living well…) and where you lack the space to articulate landscape for sake of privacy.

Today we have a huge variety of structural types -many prefab- that can be used to make skybreaks of most any scale or shape. Tension roofs and pneumatic structures in particular are promising for large scales, though there hasn’t been much experimentation with this. The potential of the concept well demonstrated, in small scale, by such things as Shigeru Ban’s Naked House where a translucent-walled clear span enclosure shelters a series of traditional Japanese rooms contained within boxes on casters that can be freely moved about. A similar concept I’ve often considered trying would use a translucent dome or hypoid/conic tension roof transported inside one of several 20′ containers on casters or short legs which would be used as simple rooms in a ‘compound’ home once the skybreak was deployed over them.

One of the most intriguing skybreak concepts I’ve come up with employs the strategy for large urban microgravity habitats on orbit. Called EvoHab, the concept derives from the Transhab -a pneumatic-hulled space station module once intended for the ISS but now the focus of the Bigelow space tourism projects. The Transhab employs a tough but flexible foam-filled skin as a pressure hull, supported by a rigid core truss around which functional elements are radially organized. Small scale, these things don’t seem very different from a typical NASA-style space station module, organized into circular decks. But I’ve anticipated this technology would produce progressively larger habitat structures, eventually trading the pre-made flexible hulls with composite hulls built on-orbit by combining a supporting frame with external shield panels and internal pressure hull panels sealed with plastic materials. In this way the same basic structure using this same core-truss radial organization would continue to grow in scale until you could enclose an entire small city within large spherical and cylindrical hull shapes. These hulls would be made ‘light transmitting’ by using externally mounted holographic membrane heliostats and internal light emitter panels linked by thin optical fibers or light pipes. These would eventually become image-corrected, making the hull virtually transparent from the inside. This vast spherical skybreak would then house an ‘urban tree habitat’ based on using the large core truss as primary attachment for radially mounted equipment and dwellings made from modular building systems. This deployable orbital housing would, in smaller forms, be akin to Japanese Capsule Hotel units but could evolve into large multi-chambered pods and clusters made primarily of semi-rigid structural foam, fabrics, and light alloy frames. The largest dwellings and work spaces could be based on stacked planes outfit by furnishings that attach between them -the same concept as the planar backplane plug-in architecture but here adapted to microgravity.

There are a lot of potential building concepts to explore as the basis of p2p architecture, depending on the scale, location, and at-hand fabrication capability. We could probably devise something for just about any situation from the at-hand technology -even if some of it remains a bit primitive.”

3 Comments A review of trends towards modular, adaptive ‘P2P’ architecture

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  2. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    An update from Eric Hunting, via email:

    “A container village as temporary housing for a sustainable architecture lab seems well suited to the type of structure and the recycling aspect compliments the sustainability goal. For projects done in, let’s say, the span of just one season where you are working in the milder climate months, lighter structures like hexayurt, traditional yurts and other rigid tents, and such would probably be cheaper. But with a more protracted project -let’s say, a couple years altogether to get your permanent community development and a continuously rotating group of student/workers- the higher cost -and heavier handling- of the containers starts balancing against multiple replacements of light structures and a higher level of comfort. I recall that Arcosanti, which has been 30 years and counting under construction, used concrete tube dormitory housing based on this logic, with structures similar to those tube hotel cottages in Dasparkhotel (http://www.dasparkhotel.net/index.php), but customizable by the students. But, again, this is a heavy thing to move around.

    Though they obviously have their limitations in terms of cost, weight, and bulkiness, I think the great virtue of the container is that it has no ceiling in the potential standard of living it can support with ingenuity -which is remarkable for something that’s so simple and not even purpose-built. So you have this remarkable situation where you see them being used by everyone from the dirt-poor to the ultra-wealthy. You could purpose-build this. Basically, a container is steel frame box unit which links together and to which everything else retrofits. You could deliberately make that with 12 pieces of structural steel profile and a clever corner connection scheme. This is what a lot of the Modernist prefabs are based on -which really goes back to stuff the likes of Pierre Koenig was doing mid-century. But, ironically, because this is purpose-built rather than based on an industrial cast-off they can’t get even close to the cost of a container mod.

    I think that one of the greatest blunders of ‘low cost’ and social housing development is the well-intentioned but confused notion of dignity through apparent class parity that grew out of the colossal failures of mass social housing in the mid 20th century. What this means is that there’s a notion that the more consistent low-cost housing is in appearance with middle-class housing the less stigma there is associated with being poor and more incentive for the poor to aspire toward middle-class ‘values’. (whatever the hell those actually are…) Thus there is a compulsion to pursue public housing as a low-cost simulation of a middle-class standard of living, which invariably results in stylistically standard-looking housing made with sub-standard construction and materials. The problem is that most middle-class housing, particularly in the US, is already made out of crap to begin with. It’s already been reduced to nothing but a simulation of some long-past historic level of quality produced at the tightest cost-efficiency its very primitive building technology can support. So there’s little you can do here to cut corners in labor cost -which is most of the cost (up to 80% in some parts of the US). You have to whittle-away what little you can in materials overhead, so you end up with a crappier version of something that’s crap to begin with, costs only a little less, and the poor pay more -as they so often do- because it deteriorates much faster, utilities and such fail more frequently, the materials are more prone to make occupants sick from latent toxicity, and it has statistically higher odds of going up in flames or being ruined in storms and earthquakes. (the US has a higher statistical rate of housing fires than any other western nation, and it mostly relates to what suburban housing is made of) This is one of my chief pet-peeves with programs like Habitat for Humanity. As much good as they do, they are very dedicated to this notion of apparent class parity, and the reason is that they make houses to please bankers, not suit the needs of their occupants. Bankers want all houses in a given place to look the same to maintain consistency in property values. The banality of suburbia is deliberate. The architecture is optimized for market fungibility based on the lowest common denominator in middle-class aesthetics.

    Now, he may have been an egotistical kook in person, but Frank Lloyd Wright had a very smart idea about the issue of low cost housing that has long been largely ignored. Through his ‘Usonian’ designs, he tried to demonstrate the concept that the key to effective low-cost housing lay in using careful design to maximize the performance -in terms of durability and comfort- from a minimum of high quality materials and space. The result may look inconsistent with the ‘standard’ forms of housing because it’s adapted to a higher standard of efficiency, but the performance matters more than appearance and with smart design it should still look beautiful even if different. In other words, you apply a higher standard for design the lower the cost -not the other way around- in order to achieve parity of _performance_, not appearance, through efficiency. Efficiency is where you realize economy, not relative quality of materials -which today don’t amount to much of the cost of housing anymore no matter how much you spend on them. With labor at sometimes 80% of cost, any significant savings in labor from use of a more expensive but higher performance material and construction method, like structural alloy profiles, is still a net savings.

    The dignity one might think you can give people through a cosmetic simulation of a supposedly higher ‘class-standard’ of housing disappears quickly when the pipes burst, the glued-on styrofoam moulding starts falling off the walls, the carpet gives your kids asthma, and the whole thing goes up in flames one night. There is much more dignity in a simple, modest, quality structure that actually works. But we tend to overlook the obvious logic of that because of class hubris and a fear of actual class parity. (upper classes always fear being dragged-down by lower classes -Malthusian logic…_) We’re conditioned to think that society is a class ladder everyone is instinctually compelled to climb or die trying and that life is naturally supposed to have a sliding economic scale of standard of living, safety, and comfort in order to help drive people up that ladder. But really, what sane person today actually aspires to the gilded circus freak Lifestyles of the Rich And Famous? Most of them seem to have the same sense of aesthetics as the late Saddam Hussein. In a civilized society you base minimum standards of living on the highest base-line health and productivity you can realize, not the peculiar excesses of certain social classes.

    I sum-up this concept with the assertion that simple structures of high performance matched to high adaptability produce a high standard of living with high cost-efficiency and a high aesthetic potential through a high potential for self-expression. Reduce structure to its elemental, in terms of structural performance rather than use/function, then let the inhabitant make of it what he will instead of imposing things on him. There’s a school of subtlety in design that says architecture is a theater stage for life and that the most beautiful/outstanding things on that stage should be its occupants. This premise is demonstrated by the better, more thoughtful, examples of Modernist architecture and the lofting movement of the late 70s and 80s. Loft apartments started as a simple strategy of adaptive reuse among urban artists exploiting the property bargains offered by urban decay for their much-needed workspace. (artists always face this conundrum of needing lots of space on the cheap when the market for their work tends to be located in upper-class urban areas) But then they discovered the virtues of having a simple but large volumetric space you could freely adapt to your needs -for comfort sake- a bit more than simply by what artwork you hung on the walls. You could do most of what used to be associated strictly with penthouse living, making these virtually abandoned urban spaces into private palaces hidden amongst the grunge. And, as artists, they could realize this with their own hands. The loft came to represent a new casual lifestyle within the urban environment. By the end of the 80s the association with artists combined with the potential for interior design freedom made lofts chic and real estate developers started building ready-made lofts as a mainstream upper-middle-class form of urban housing, realizing that the inherent adaptability made it more attractive to tenants while being as cost-efficient as commercial office buildings. Most abandoned urban industrial zones are now gone. The loft created a way for them all to be gentrified out of existence!

    Ever since I’ve noticed this I’ve been wondering why all apartment buildings aren’t lofts, why most urban architecture isn’t ‘functionally generic’ at the human scale and concerned more with function at the level of society, habitat, and landscape, and, for that matter, why all suburban housing isn’t based on structures that are, essentially, free-standing loft units? After all, the first thing most Americans do when they move into a new house is gut it and renovate the interior -it’s their only option for expressing themselves when home exteriors are required to be uniformly banal for the sake of property values. And they keep on doing that at a steadily increasing pace -particularly with bathrooms and kitchens that now get renovated an average of every 3 years. (because houses STILL rot from the bathroom out…) So why aren’t houses -and everything else- deliberately designed to make doing this as easy and efficient as possible -particularly given how expensive it is and how much land-fill waste it produces?

    This comes back to the issue of low-cost housing in that, if you concentrated the public investment in such housing on super-durable high-perfomance structure that is functionally generic and very simple in form -a ‘backplane’ for habitat- then left the rest to the inhabitants you might produce a very lively environment with no ceiling in potential comfort and and standard of living at a very low cost. if it was focused on creating ‘habitat space’ and not ‘apartment units’ in the way that office buildings make ‘office space’, it might enjoy that same sort of potential economy of scale. Then you could exploit the sweat-equity of inhabitants in making their dwellings in exactly the same way IKEA makes furniture cheap by getting the end-user to do the end-assembly.

    As I mentioned earlier, in the 60s proponents of plug-in architecture explored the idea of open frame structures into which appliance-like dwelling modules could be plugged into. The overall super-structure provided a utilities/infrastructure backplane for these dwellings to plug into but otherwise imposed no limitations on the size and shape of the individual dwellings beyond the limits of their connection grid. It tried, relying on the lightness and openness of space frames, to become virtually invisible. So the design of the superstructure revolved around how volumetric space was organized into an overall habitat. In effect, it was landscape design. Architecture merged with civil engineering. Problem was, the nature of space-filling space frames is such that they don’t integrate well into any natural landscape. It was anti-gravity architecture -like the architecture people make in Virtual Reality. So it never got from SciFi ‘down to Earth’. Indeed, some of the crazier of these concepts proposed vast planar truss structures suspended over whole existing cities like a highway overpass flying over slum zones and relegating the lower urban landscape to something akin to the lower biomes of a rainforest. Like trees in a forest suppressing undergrowth by dominating the canopy and the energy of sunlight, these things seemed to be trying to kill-off the old cities by cutting off their access to the sky!

    But if you understand the design objective as the creation of a landscape for people to inhabit, not the design of discrete housing, you can start thinking about the urban habitat within the context of the larger natural environment it resides in and seek integration through the borrowing of forms and rules from nature as well as human social and psychological needs.

    So what am I getting at here? Well, suppose you designed ‘public housing’ not as housing but as a community environment comprised of the most absolutely adaptive and functionally generic loft space possible -a habitat backplane little more than a roofed skeleton with gridded integral utilities infrastructure- and then let its occupants retrofit it to their hearts content, with assistance from community groups that are focused on fabrication at that retrofit level. You don’t impose any particular use on this space other than to define spatial zones that preference more public or private modes of activity, facilitate certain flows of human traffic, or have certain bioclimatic characteristics. So all the activities of a whole community could be hosted in this backplane.

    I’ve long had this fantasy of trying to repurpose a modest sized office building or parking tower into a village; a ‘proto-arcology’. These structures are designed for perpetual repurposing -even if that repurposing almost never is imagined outside of the context of commercial office space. Recently, I’ve been toying with this notion of an outquisition theme comic book called Tribe about a loose community of young contemporary ‘maker heroes’ (with a mysterious benefactor who only communicates by email and instant messaging) who solve environmental, economic, and social problems and provide disaster/emergency aid around the globe in MacGyver-style fashion through their home-brew technology. Sort of like Thunderbirds for the actual 21s century. It’s intended as a light entertainment vehicle for introducing people to Post-Industrial culture and the emerging technologies enabling that cultural evolution -and perhaps with cameos by some of today’s personalities in the movement. In order to facilitate its efforts, the Tribe has various temporary and permanent bases -made mostly through the adaptive reuse of found structures- in unusual places all over the globe between which they travel in their various home-brew EcoTech vehicles. I imagined one of these being in an abandoned post-global-recession suburban edge city where they appropriate a lone abandoned office building, strip it to its steel and concrete skeleton, and remake it through retrofit into a proto-arcology complete with vertical farming, renewable energy systems, workshops and labs, grid computing array, terraced gardens, vehicle depot, and large apartments that seem luxurious but with that luxury made by their own hands and ingenuity and often by recycling found industrial artifacts. (and, of course, cargotecture comes into this too for various deployable buildings and, in particular, for a marine base made of containers lost from ships and deployed to farm the South Pacific Gyre for recyclables with robotic wingsail skimmer craft) Alas, all far beyond my own artistic talents and collaboration is dead in the comics industry today.”

  3. AvatarElitePrefabHomes.com

    Great stuff here!
    Prefabracted steel, modular, prefab homes and buildings will offer solutions to the world’s building and housing shortage for the deprived, under-privileged and low income populations in society by providing a total system for basic, low-cost, quality built housing. The modular housing constructed with sandwich panels is the lowest in cost, most rapidly erected, simplest in design, and most structurally sound basic housing in existence today. Plus, you can ship 21 houses in a 40 foot container.
    The information on this page pertains to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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