The future of urban dwellings may be making its debut in a SoDo warehouse today. The Seattle architecture firm of CollinsWoerman is showing off a prefabricated component-based concrete and steel building system, which utilizes patent-pending technology to construct apartments, condos, hotels and university housing units in about half the time of normal construction.
Unlike most mid-rise construction projects, CollinsWoerman’s technique involves constructing the components off-site and then assembling them at the physical location. That means the walls already contain electrical, plumbing and fire systems, leading McKinstry’s Scott Hayes, whose firm partnered with CollinsWoerman on the effort, to offer that it is “built like a Lego set.”
CollinsWoerman, which has formed a new subsidiary by the name of Sustainable Living Innovations to develop the pre-fab units, said the idea was born out of the recession when many building owners couldn’t adapt quickly enough to the changing economics. New realities with housing costs also helped drive the idea.
Typically, apartment and condo buildings can take as long as 40 months to construct. But he pre-fab units can be developed in about half of that time at the same cost. According to a recent story about the firm in Fast Company, the units feature “concrete floor slabs and ample natural lighting, right out of an IKEA catalog.”
The pre-fab prototype is one story, but it can be used
How are the units constructed?
Here’s a description from CollinsWoerman:
After setting a foundation, SLI begins by pouring separate concrete floor slabs on the footprint of a building. A pre-fabricated steel frame is erected around it to form the structure. Utilizing a patent-pending system, the roof and subsequently each floor slab are lifted into place using internal hydraulic jacks. Each lift contains all the components for the floor (i.e. window system, interior walls, cabinets, and fixtures). The process is repeated with each floor of the building.
Here’s a pretty cool video showing how the living units are created: