Category Archives: Engineering

Exotic Architecture #4

Follow up from the last post on our newest design – a disaster response – is a quick post on the INFO Box by Schneider + Schumacher Architekten.  INFO Box was a temporary structure built in 1995 in the historic Postdamer Platz, which had been completely destroyed during the war and left as a vacant zone during the Cold War period.  Following the dismantling of The Wall and the rebuilding of this once vibrant cultural point, INFO Box became a temporary structure intended to educate the masses on the rebuilding effort.  This light structure barely touching the ground and quickly built in three months acted an information center providing views of construction sites, as well as, a variety of multimedia educational booths informing the public on what would become of Potsdamer Platz.

Effectively a band aid covering the cities wound, INFO Box was eventaully taken down in 2001 once reconstruction of Potsdamer Platz was complete.  Interestingly this structure seems to imbue many of the features of the Antarctic Research stations we’ve mentioned before.



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Introducing Unit 0322

For a while now, we at InterModal Design have been working on a form of relief housing which would not only address short term issues, but also provide a plan for stabile long term growth.  Unit 0322 came about following the earthquake disaster in Chile, in which many lower and middle class homes were destroyed by a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake.  We were contacted to produce a formal proposal which would provide relief housing on a massive scale in a very short period of time.  Shipping containers seemed like the best solution: readily available and durable shelters which could not only arrive on site within weeks, but could provide the necessary protection from the looming winter months and inclement weather in Chile.

But, we also had our eyes on the future.  0322 is more than just a means of providing protection; it is also a way of building communities.  Once initial needs are met, such as providing a safe shelter, the home owners can personalize their containers at their own pace and budget – adding a window here or there, painting the interior and eventually purchasing the simple affordable exterior cladding and pitched roof we’ve designed.  The concept is to provide stabile growth and allow the home owners to transform the container into their home.  After all, we recognize that not everyone wants to feel like they live in a container.

For more plans, photos, and an informational pdf on unit 0322 check out our website.

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Exotic Architecture #3

Richard Rogers may be more well known for his sense of style than as the inspiration of the current generation of Antarctic structures.  However, having perused a fantastic book on modular construction, I stumbled upon Richard and Su Rogers Zip-Up Enclosures No 1 and 2 and immediately thought of those small stations stubbornly surviving in the harsh climate.  These high tech Zip Up Enclosures were intended to replace housing as we know it.  The frame of each structure would consist of several panels comprised of hybrid plastics, rubber and PVC.  The idea being the skin could act as its own structural support, similar to the system in cars and certain mobile homes.  People could buy the necessary amount of panels and zip them into the existing pieces, creating a home fit perfectly to their needs.  Further, the structure could adapt to any site as the support stilts could be jacked up accordingly.  Sound familiar? That’s because it’s very similar to the techniques being employed on Halley VI and other Antarctic research stations (as previously mentioned here).  Not to mention, Rogers even nailed the aesthetic of current space age looking stations such as the South African station and newly built French and Italian research station.  Though admittedly, Zip Up Enclosures retain Richard’s appreciation for bold gaudy colors, something the research stations haven’t employed yet.  After all, what better way to find a station then look for the eye popping yellow and pink tube, jutting out of a landscape of white.

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The Oil Tank House Boat

In the 1939 June issue of Popular Science, there is an amusing piece of engineering and design in which Rene Tatro refurbishes a 20,000 gallon oil tank into a house boat.  It has all the fancy and fantasy of an Aristide Antonas Keg Apartment, even complete with a duck billed canvas overhang. I’m not sure about the health implications of living in a repurposed oil tank, but it sure sounds fun.


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Concrete Canvas

Concrete cloth: Just add water!  In a related note to the Binishell, here is an example of the current science of concrete construction.  Besides being an amusing video packed with action and english accents, the above commercial is also highly informative and inspiring.  It seems like a great way of putting in place simple infrastructural structures, such as a retaining wall or side walk, in a relatively remote area.  More info on their website.

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