Sunday, 28 September 2008

louvre assembly

Finally a building that loves nature, sings in the late sunbeams of the morning, receives the rain with praying hands, grasses weave happily between and spiders weft their yarns across its Y-frames. I sit delerious between 14 pairs (x2) of praying hands watching the cathedral of light unfold in oscelation with the shadows. A robin red breast drops in to say hello, two black birds dance high in a berry tree beyond and a woodpecker provides the back beat. Finally this poem to the genius of our wonderful planet is arising - a prayer to celebrate our existance in this miracle called life, bending structures that reach and resonate, that hum with natures vibrations. Autumn is definitely on the way, and leaves have been gathering between the click-leaf hands.
Saturday was spent chilling in the sun after a very slow start and a heavy fog, so didn't have much time left this weekend to build. Sunday was another slow start, but finally got my act together to start on the louvres. Getting all the holes lining up properly and threading the first pvc tubes through. Testing the 1st trial louvres which you can see in the photos. Still around 20 louvres to complete, including fixing the aluminium/rubber seals and the stainless steel threaded rods to complete the west elevation. The east elevation will be fixed polycarbonate panels orientated vertically, and for now the roof will remain in simple panels.
The relationship between the plywood and polycarbonate continues to grow on me, there is something rather beautiful about this synergy of different materials.
A 6.0x2.5m dwelling will seem perfectly normal in future because this space like a like dr.who's tardis will be an integration of structure, services, storage, systems, information and furnature that is flip away or fold out. It will work more like a multi-tool. Like a leatherman or swiss army knife, a house in future will be required to be durable, excellently crafted and useable for 1001 tasks which right now are impossible to imagine.

Saturday, 27 September 2008


The click-raft is an on-going experiment which i am keen to invite all who are interested to participate in an open-source experiment to help evolve a completely new kind of autonomous live/work mini architecture. This is no easy or simple task and will take numerous 'design hackers' to try out different options or configurations...
... I'm interested especially in students (young + old), people who like to tinker, universities, research institutions, and companies willing to explore the click-raft concept and to really push this thing around, to see what might be possible with this way of thinking... its time for architecture to become more useful and accessible, cheaper, quicker, lighter, and smarter, its time for architecture to be completely re-invented !

For example, what i didn't mention until now regarding the concept is that it is much more than simply based on standard CNC panel flat pack self-assembly potentials that are interesting in the click-raft...
.... it should be understood like a lego kit. You can build it like the instructions suggest or you can see all the bits as an open system that enables a huge range of possibilities.....
.... I have already given the click-raft two very different kinds of shapes... the one you see here is just one...

.... like super large lego pieces the idea is to add lego mindstorms robotics into the mix, to operate and manage the click-raft's weather skin, energy use, water use etc using the mindstorms nxt software (which 10 year old kids can operate) to program sensors to respond to light, temperature, windspeed and so on then to use the micro-processors to instruct the servo motors to adjust the louvres, screens and blinds to open or close, orientate to the sun or away just as tree leaves can do and thus enable the click-raft to respond just as plants do to the changing conditions around it of night and day, summer and winter, rain or shine, cold or hot through providing different degrees of transparency, openness, ventilation, humidity etc.

... this clickable dwelling could learn to adjust with the seasons, to close up at night, and open to a sunny morning, even to dance, breathe, or simply flap its leaves

Thursday, 25 September 2008

latest site photos with roof

with the structure almost complete, it is time to put part of the roof up for a work space to continue construction out of the rain. Next task is the louvres which I'm still refining, and may yet have to change the detail owing to huge differences in expansion rates between the aluminium/rubber strips and the polycarbonate. The challenge is to make slot joints for the stainless steel rods which connect through to the pvc tubes (these slot into the click-raft joints that you see on every part of the plywood structure). The detail also has to enable expansion and contraction over 2m's which works well, but I still haven't found a suitable rubber based adhesive which is flexible enough to cope.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

how much does a Click-Raft cost?

The aim of the Click-Raft is to produce a compact autonomous live/work unit for $10,000.
This price would include the timber structure, polycarbonate louvre cladding, furniture (shelving, table, beds etc), kitchen/ wc/shower with underfloor watertanks , solar powered 12v battery data+electric systems, to run autonomous electricity for lights, switches, and sensors (with micro processors + servo motors) to adjust the louvre systems.

Two variations

1.0 Flat-Pack CLICK-RAFT (goal $10,000 target price)
a flat-pack with all the elements of structure (plywood click-leaves) and cladding together with fixings, furniture etc as mentioned above. The building can then be assembled in a day and finishes selected as desired. (currently this option is not available, I'm still at prototype stage, but if there is enough interest then I will look options to develop it)

2.0 D.I.Y. CLICK-RAFT (design fee + materials costs + your own labour)
For a small design fee, you could download the digital drawing, give it to your local timber mill to CNC the plywood panels. Additional drawings for the louvre design, furniture, kitchen, etc would be provided so that these could be made by you or fabricated locally.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

completing the 6m raft structure

today was a big step forward... to achieve good roof cover to enable work out of the rain.
With help from fellow kiwi chris winwood, we managed to complete both 6m wall-rafts and 2/3rds of the roof (would have finished that too, but the final pieces need still need adjusting from earlier details - such is the challenge of prototyping - think I have about 10 different click-leaf details now).
The weaving structure starts to hover and dance with its new habitat... it begins to feel like it belongs here.
We celebrated the days work with a good meal and red wine at chris' place to chill for the evening.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Finally, a free day with really good weather !
After having sorted the glitches in the floor-raft to ensure levels were even, it was time to set up the wall-rafts, and get a section of roof on so that I would have cover in the wet - ideally I would have liked to achieve two sections (4.0m) but there are still some click-leaves without drill holes in the right places (and now I need a battery powered drill - there is no power at picardhof)
I had some competition for building materials as Luka and Titus decided they would build their own fort.
As you can see from the 1st photo, today was a special moment, not only did we have a picnic lunch, but i decided to cook and eat dinner on the click-raft....
aroma of bbq'd steak on my primus , rocket, marinaded olives + garlic cloves, tomatos.. hmmm
aroma of freshly stained and oiled timber,
a candle glows as the light fades, click-leaves reaching for the night sky dancing gently in the breeze in unison with the trees above.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Broader Thoughts...

I guess this should have been said before (today its raining so its time to write) the intiatives of Neil Gershenfeld's FABLAB's is also the essence of what this experiment is all about. My aim was to make a work/live dwelling that could function like a tree (or simple computer) that would be less than $10,000 to build. In fact until now I have only spent $2,000 on materials (including some expensive lexan which i may never use) so its about how to open the door to a completely different design and production process that is ridiculously cheap.

This is also the reason that the building elements are simple cut 300x2440 pieces from standard plywood sheets (1220x2440 or 8'x4') which are then simply clicked together like lego.
The panel design is such that a computer controlled routing machine could easily produce them.

The polycarbonate louvres are much the same size, based around the length of standard aluminium/rubber door seals which I'm using for double seal between louvres. These are then screwed into pvc tubes (normally used for household wiring) and the tubes are threaded through the click-joints in the plywood 'click-leaf' panels. Once refined the whole system will be extremely simple and quick to assemble. Ideally the whole thing should be able to be fabricated in a Fab Lab. Then D.I.Y (do it yourself) constructed on site.

links to FABLAB's
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