Folding Concrete?! Flat-Pack Building Blocks of the Future
This may be the biggest invention since that long-standing, still-universal staple of the construction industry: the red clay brick. A single identical unit, multiplied by four, forms a rigid structural element – stack these and set them side by side, and you have nothing short of a material revolution.
Created by Dror Benshetrit after years of toying with related geometries and building methods, this super-simple, gravity-driven block system known as “QuaDror” has as many applications as one can imagine. It could be used for short-term emergency shelters, on the one hand, or to hold up bridges for the long haul on the other.
Think: Buckminster Fuller domes for the 21st Century. Uniform in shape and size, each pair expands outward to provide stability like (and require less space than) a conventional building block – they are symmetrical on both sides, but joined together are beyond tough to topple.
So how high can they go? Up to 86 of these flat pack concrete structures can be piled, one atop the next, making sizable structures a real possibility on the scale of most masonry equivalents – but with far less mass. Nor is the shape limited to concrete – wood, books, even cardboard can be constructed around this geometrical concept and stand upright without risk of collapse (beyond material capacity). Who knows: these may be the new triangles (or at least as neat as see-through concrete and transparent aluminum!).
Here’s more from the designer about the evolution of this unusual object:
“In 2006, while experimenting in the workshop, Dror discovered a serendipitous geometry. Initially inspired by the aesthetic and flexibility of this versatile form, he soon realized the structural integrity of the interlocking members. The unique space truss geometry – now named QuaDror – is made from the assembly of four identical L-shaped pieces, either thin resulting in a trestle structure, or thick resulting in a solid panel. The collapsible system allows for rapid assembly and a transition from closed and flat to open and self-standing.”
“Four years of inspired and diligent investigations in a collaborative and experimental environment have allowed the team to develop a unique structure that can adapt to a variety of conditions and configurations. These range from product design, trestle structures, dwellings, dividing walls, sound barriers, and more. Some applications take advantage of its load-bearing capabilities, while others capitalize on its acoustic properties, ease of manufacturing, collapsibility and energy performance.”
“Boosted by a team of experts, the studio conducted inter-disciplinary research and rigorous analysis, to soon discover the overwhelming strength of the geometry coming from the most simplistic physical force. The geometry revealed five development direction for applications with endless possibilities; dividing, dwelling, trestle, fenestration and artistic installation. These enabled designs reflect an ever-changing world where contextual factors and technological resources are shifting definitions of architecture, design, and the traditional boundaries between disciplines.”