EDFAB : design and building of a plywood research house
McCulloch, N.; Patel, Yusef; Potauaine, S.
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Citation:McCulloch, N., Patel, Y., & Potauaine, S. (2020). EDFAB : design and building of a plywood research house. Asylum 2020/4, 182-189.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/5263
INTRODUCTION: EDFAB: Eco-digital Fabrication Research Project was a collaboration between researchers and students from the University of Auckland’s and Unitec Institute of Technology’s Schools of Architecture. The research sought to investigate and develop a new housing typology with off-the-shelf materials and simple digital fabrication machinery. EDFAB aims to radically challenge conventional construction processes and relationships by proposing an alternative fabrication process to address problems of affordability, personalisation, energy performance and indoor comfort. The research investigates how simple automated technology can enhance the design process, labour, productivity, organisation and quality in ways that avoid stigmatising construction professionals. Over the past six years, there have been four major project iterations of EDFAB. As New Zealand’s construction sector is largely comprised of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs),1 design concepts were developed to provide a pathway for conventional building contractors to upskill and increase productivity. The purpose of EDFAB, therefore, was to investigate what possible added-value changes could be made to existing balloon-framing house methodologies with 3-axis CNC automated processes. The original EDFAB prototype investigated the design and fabrication of a 10sqm ‘plywood centric’ proof of concept that was displayed at the 2014 Whau Arts Festival (Figure 1). In 2015, University of Auckland architecture students designed EDFAB 2.0, a 10sqm plywood and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) iteration on the original prototype. This prototype sought to reduce waste and simplify design complexities. The design worked on the premise of CNC milling plywood components to create modular boxes. The LVL was cut and assembled into portal frames to provide structure and flexibility to the construction system. In 2017, students furthered the research by producing the EDFAB 3.0: Living Pod for the ‘Prefab NZ Interactive Display, Brought to You by Unitec’ exhibit at the BuildNZ | Designex expo (Figure 2). The purpose of the iteration was to seek industry feedback and refine details from the previous iteration. In 2019, the 65sqm two-bedroom EDFAB 4.0: The Carter Holt Harvey Research House was built in a collaboration between students, researchers and building contractors. The development sought to resolve deficiencies in the assembly process, include building contractors in the construction process and reduce the dependency on CNC plywood components by discarding the portal frame.
Keywords:New Zealand, plywood houses, digital fabrication, architecture education, prototyping, design build, prefabrication, computer numerical control (CNC), CAD/CAM (computer aided design/computer aided manufacture)
ANZSRC Field of Research:120202 Building Science and Techniques, 130299 Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified, 120199 Architecture not elsewhere classified
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