‘BubbleDeck’ Technology at Harvey Mudd College / MATT Construction

Courtesy of

MATT Construction is utilizing an innovative new slab technology called BubbleDeck, which replaces a significant percentage of a slab’s concrete mass with hollow or foam-filled plastic balls, made from recycled plastic material. The Teaching and Learning Building at Harvey Mudd College (HMC), designed by Boora Architects with structural engineering provided by kpff, will be the first above-ground building in the to employ the technology. HMC has enthusiastically embraced this project on their campus. More images and project description after the break.

Courtesy of MATT Construction

BubbleDeck is a biaxial technology that increases span lengths and makes floors thinner by reducing the weight while maintaining the performance of reinforced concrete slabs. The concept is based on the fact that the area between columns of a solid slab has limited structural effect beyond adding weight. Replacing this area with a grid of “voids” sandwiched between layers of reinforcing welded wire steel and an internal lattice girder yields a slab typically 35% lighter that performs like solid reinforced concrete. Once the steel lattice/void “sandwich” is concreted, it is then precast into panels of various sizes and craned into position on shoring. Once concrete is poured over the balls in the panels, the BubbleDeck system effectively becomes, and behaves like, a monolithic two-way slab that distributes force uniformly and continuously.

Courtesy of MATT Construction

The lighter, thinner, prefabricated slabs allow smaller and fewer columns and beams, and smaller foundations than traditional concrete slabs. For designers and building users this means greater design flexibility. “The reduction in structural mass enabled longer spans and, therefore, greater design opportunities,” said Amy Donohue, principal at Boora Architects, the firm that designed the building. “We are thrilled that Harvey Mudd College recognized the benefits of this innovative structural system and is willing to be a role model for future building projects.”

Courtesy of MATT Construction

The whole production has created a buzz of excitement on campus, with weekly student and faculty site visits, ball signings, and professors incorporating the jobsite challenges into their classroom curriculum.

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "‘BubbleDeck’ Technology at Harvey Mudd College / MATT Construction" 27 Apr 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=229105>
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  • ing. marco il grande

    there is also another system, called U-boot, which is an improvement of Cobiax/Bubbledeck systems.
    First of all, the shape of U-boot allows to stack the goods, while a ball represents a volume during transportation.
    A truck of U-boot® means approximately 5000 m2 of slab, once void formers are laid down at building site. The second innovation is the shape: U-boot® creates a grid of orthogonal “I” beams, so the calculation of the reinforcement can be effected by any static engineer according to Eurocode, British Standards or any local standard.
    more info at: daliform.com

    • DESPLATS Martin

      The advantage of the Uboot® technical solution is also on the environment saving (HQE) and logistic cost. for the same 5000 m2 of slab we only need one truck with Uboot® and more 20 trucks with Cobiax/Bubbledeck. For any more detail about the advantage of the Uboot® solution or if you want to visit a customer project, please contact daliform. For France, Martin Desplats +33 (0)6 58 81 01 05 or by mail martin.desplats@daliform.com