WATG Urban's first prize design for The Freeform Home Design Challenge in 2016 is now moving one step closer to becoming a reality. Since winning the competition, WATG's Chicago office has been developing the winning design, dubbed Curve Appeal, alongside Branch Technology. Curve Appeal is now undergoing the "wall section testing, research and development phase" with an anticipated goal of breaking ground later this year. This revolutionary project could change the way we construct complex, freeform structures.
The design for Curve Appeal is derived from the Case Study Houses developed between 1945-1966. The Case Study House program strived to reinvent the modern house using easier and less expensive construction techniques. Many of the program's architects were celebrated for their innovation in minimalist materials and the integration of open-plan living spaces that maximized natural light. "Employing many of the same modernist design principles, Curve Appeal is the next evolutionary step" in modern residential design.
Branch Technology's innovation in the 3D-printing process opens the door for the creation of more complex design forms, making them much easier and less expensive to construct. "The arching form provides structural rigidity to the residence, using various spring points throughout the floor plan, allowing the structure to carry roof loads and provide large open-plan living spaces, shaping structures in new ways without any restrictions."
Enlisting the services of Thornton Tomasetti, the team has been printing test beams and partial wall sections to examine their load bearing capabilities. In generic printed beam tests, a three-foot-long beam could carry a load of approximately 3,600 pounds, while only weighing five pounds, explained the architects. The maximum load bearing qualities of each individual printed member will be the next stage of testing.
Also enlisting the work of United States Gypsum, WATG and Branch Technology have been researching "a variety of gypsum material components (including gypsum spray foam and other innovative solutions provided by United States Gypsum’s research and development department)" that could be applied to the printed structure to work as fire protection, structural reinforcement, and to create a substrate for the application of other wall finish materials. WATG and Branch Technology have also engaged Interface, a high-performance mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design firm, "to design a passive mechanical system with the aim of making the house net-zero-energy."
Steps away from the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, the site for Curve Appeal allows for the building to blend seamlessly into the wooded area while also being protected from solar heat gain. "WATG is currently producing detailed design drawings and working in collaboration with the City of Chattanooga to ensure the project is advancing according to the intended timeline."
News via: WATG Urban.