Bespoke Homes : Facit Design Using BIM to Design Homes for Assembly


Design and Build have not always been the best of friends, honestly.  While you don’t have one without the other there is still a separation, like oil and water, sure you can shake it and it stays mixed for a bit and can make a tasty dressing but without adding something they always separate again.  An architect might create a BIM to use for construction but then the CM (construction manager) might take the BIM and say, ‘oh yes, I see what you want to do,’  and then design it for constructablility.  Before entering the AEC part of the world I was in product design and manufacturing.  Parts were designed to have less waste, to be less complex, to use simpler molds, to reduce cycle time, to have less operations, all to create an easy assemble, cost effective product.  There was a version of 3D printing called SLA (Sterolithography) that used lasers that hardened resin a millimeter at a time to create 3D models and CNC machines to hog ABS plastic out, among other materials, to create prototypes of a part and product before you went to mold, because creating the molds was expensive and you wanted to know the parts worked together, and the right tolerances before you cut steel.  These processes and machines were expensive but when it was right, all that expense would allow to create inexpensive repeatable parts that could be easily assembled and voila, your buying a blender for $29.99.  But the cost for these technologies has plummeted from ZCorp’s 3D printing, to being able to build or buy your own desktop CNC machine or 3D printer.  However, this process is still in its infancy in the design/build world of homes, building and architecture.

Sure you see full scale BIM’s with clash detection and the different disciplines coming together to seeing into the one model, and sequencing and scheduling and for the most part it is on larger projects, under the the guise of IPD (Integrated Project Delivery), but still rarely do you see component parts built off site and brought on to be inserted into the building, although prefab is gaining more steam.  Still you have a lot of people creating buildings on site, by hand.  And usually they do a fantastic job of it, but imagine if you had a machine creating custom cuts, etc. for assembly, direct from the design, allowing for tighter tolerances, less waste, reduced manpower, better scheduling, well that should be a fine addition to the toolbox of architects and builders.

When I read An Entire House That You Can Snap Together Like a Toy, I was very interested, but more excited to learn about the process.  Which brought me to Facit Homes, out of London and then watching their videos.  They design for assembly, that is, the thought put into the design is from the product design world, how it goes together, how will it work, how is it most effective, and, AND, this is big, there is a portable CNC machine/truck making custom cutting wood for assembly into the home they designed.  That’s awesome.  And while they don’t seem to be advertising the fact, they are using Autodesk Revit for the process, as you can see the ribbon in the videos.  Regardless of what technology they are using, that’s awesome.  Less waste, tighter fits, built for assembly.  They get it.  Integrated Design Build. Cats and Dogs Living Together. Now That’s a Tasty Burger.

 

D-Process from Facit Homes on Vimeo.

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  1. #1 by Erik on August 17, 2012 - 10:16 am

    I always wonder what the labor implications are when I talk or read about technologies that are bringing efficiency to construction. I’m all for it, but I know the 800lb gorilla in the room is labor. Your thoughts? Anybody else got a position?

  2. #2 by Jim Foster on September 4, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    Well when the bottom dropped out in 2008 is was all about doing more with less, and everyone unionized or not were getting haircuts. But it is a valid argument, especially one predicated on hourly/billable pay. Why make things more efficient? However, technologies will get incoporparated as leading edge companies prove their mettle and the worth of these. BIM, modular buildings, etc. I guess don’t have the intial holy sh*8 moment of the first nail gun, but tough to argue against the nail gun.

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