If you keep your technological ear to the ground, you must have heard the growing rumble coming from the construction sector recently. From robot bricklayers boosting worksite efficiency to entirely 3D-printed buildings sprouting around the world, innovation is huge driving force in the industry. Maybe you've even seen construction workers shifting superhuman loads in custom-built exoskeleton frames, and now think you've seen it all. Not so fast, though – have you ever watched a fully functional building unfold itself from a flat-pack in just 8 minutes? That's exactly what UK engineering firm Ten Fold is showcasing right now.
Looking at this purely from a transportation standpoint, you can already see the appeal of flat-packed self-construction. Shifting components between locations generally means paying to transport a lot of empty space. Ten Fold's innovations could drastically cut down this wasted capacity, while still coping with complex, multi-level building designs of around 689 square feet.
As for actually putting the structures up, Ten Fold says it's as simple as pressing a button. Once the building has unfolded itself, an electric drill is all it takes to tighten up the fittings. No traditional , pre-dug foundations are required, and the units can be connected to a standard drainage system or used “stand-alone”. There are plenty of options for powering the structures, with solar, fuel cells, CHP or conventional generators among the possibilities for heating.
One of the most obvious and pressing applications for self-deploying buildings would be in crisis situations, where shelters and medical facilities need to be set up at short notice. Critically, Ten Fold says its designs can even be adapted to extreme environmental conditions and climates. The buildings are insulated and can support double or triple glazing options. For temporary structures, they're just as simple to pack up as they are to deploy. Another button press will see the whole thing folding itself back up for relocation or storage.
For inspiration, Ten Fold have actually looked backward as much as forward. Their self-deploying structures rely on simple, reliable applications of physics rather than computers and complex automation. The prices start at around £100,000, and the company's already guaranteeing delivery to most areas by the end of 2018.
Overall, it's going to be fascinating to see how this all plays out. There's clearly massive potential in the concept, and many ways it could develop over time. Meanwhile, take a look at the video. Ten Fold has posted of a working prototype, check out their site and talk to RIFT about making your own innovations pay.
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