Housing Industry set to Turn Turtle

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Imagine shifting to some place not just with your luggage, but your entire house. Well, actually, it would rather mean shifting your house in whole rather than just moving from one house to another. Doesn’t that sound quixotic? A UK-based company has developed a technology of foldable structures which is about to revolutionize the construction industry.

The domain of structures has undergone a significant revolution in the last 100 years. From sand giving way to ready mix concrete for binding, to leveraging steel for effective structural strength, and glass panes adorning outer walls, there is much that has changed the way structures are constructed and made to look and feel.

Today, solar paneled roofs, energy efficient and energy sufficient housing material and more are ruling the day. Pre-fabricated walls and other structural elements are also going popular. Robots are being deployed to increase speed and efficiency of construction.

However, this is all set to change.

Two-third of the global population is incapable of purchasing or rent housing facilities, especially in urban areas. Therefore, it is necessary to surmount this gainsay in terms of providing better and affordable housing facility to all sectors of the society globally.

According to the Survey of Construction conducted by the Census Bureau in 2014, it takes, on an average, 11.4 months for the completion of multi-family housing construction. Introduction of pre-fabrication techniques have sped up the overall process. However, it is the volume build method that has lessened the overall time to completely construct a house. Built with linkages and foldable modules that can be transported for erection and installation, these houses can be set up anywhere and anytime in a matter of minutes to hours depending on the internal complexities.

Future of housing

TenFold Engineering owns a patent, GB 2,505,674B, that showcases the first ever implementation of this foldable technology. According to the patent, the folded assembly consisting of roofs, walls, floors, sidewalls etc., is placed inside the container which appears as the outer-most chamber.. On input from the user end, foldable levers extend the folded elements  and unfolding them completely and later on unwrapping other folded attachments such as beds, tables etc., which were earlier kept inside the outermost chamber in folded state. Thereby erecting the complete structure gradually.

Figure 1 Perspective View of the building assembly

A pivotal motive of these foldable structures is the ease to reposition. To ensure this, Tenfold Engineering has included certain embodiments within the overall structure which makes sure the building can be smoothly transported as a container. It has a self-deploying feature which allows the structure to unfold and expand to three times of its folded size. Besides, the process of unfolding is reversible, thereby making it durable and effective while positioning it time and again. Moreover, the structure also requires robustness to withstand loadings; therefore, it includes legs with a strong base  which not only makes it robust, but also enhances stability against unexpected scenarios such as earthquakes.

Figure 2 Building assembly consists of spaced apart supported beams

Ten Fold’s structures can be interlinked or stacked in various combinations making them well-suited to meet any requirement such as personal house, office building or even hotel. The company also provides the freedom to choose the links and series of folding patterns to change the internal layout of the structure in whatever way the user finds best.

The patent US 5,596,844 by Kalinowski describes a nested box-like trailer of the house which contains extendable end sections of the house. The end sections are pivoted to the roofs and floor of the trailer which, when folded, nests with each other. The end sections form the extended portion of the trailer when unfolded.

The end section also contains the foldable side walls and roof which are nested with the end sections. When completely extended, these side walls and rooftop nest with the floor to complete the extended portion of the trailer.

Another patent by Stewart E Gardner is in sync with the afore described patent. Patent US 3,360,891 discloses an extendable portable house consisting of foldable panels such as roofs, floor and side walls which are nested with the side walls of the main volume of the building. They are hinged at multiple points thereby taking adequate space during folding. The facility also houses other embodiments which are used to cover the foldable floors, sidewalls and roof of the extended portion when in folded state.


Figure 3 Section of the portable wall structure in its expanded position

Currently, the technology of unfold-able structure is not yet pronounce as compared to other construction technology but various companies are gradually employing this technology as marketing tactics. For example, Dunkin’ Donuts launched a $10-night stay in tiny home in Airbnb. Moreover, “Living Unit” which is a pre-erected housing unit is being auctioned on Ebay. With more advancements and awareness, it is expected that foldable structure will soon provide assuaging user experience at affordable prices expediting the domain of renewable technology over conventional technology.

(Featured image is intended for representational purpose alone and has been sourced from https://www.flickr.com/photos/kecko/35151034473)  

Nidhish Mann
Nidhish Mann

Nidhish is an avid reader who finds German novels quite captivating for their beauty and simplicity. He is also a football fanatic and his love for Animes is immaculate.

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