30 November 2010

On the other hand.....

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When we are still contemplating about the roof rafter and bolt connections (read more HERE), lets take a look of what is going on on-site.....Holy...!!!

Don't worry, of course we are still on top of the site progress!

testing the "slump" of the concrete mix. take 3 random buckets of concrete samples out of 3 random concrete mixing trucks, to test the water content of the concrete to ensure its strength

Voila! now, this slab is structural, unlike the sutekon!

29 November 2010

Finally...we have reached the 1:1 mock-up

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With everything happening so rapidly on site, M House is requiring more attention to detail.

We have requested for a 1:1 mock-up of the roof ridge structure to be built on site, so we can study the bolt connection next week quite readily...unfortunately we had to do some paper mock-ups here in Sydney.....

ridge mock-up in plywood

this is where the roof structure rests over the concrete walls, the only place roof touches its supporting structure. There is no column in the 20m long house.

this is our version of the ridge....not quite the same is it...

we started making 1:5 component models, this is the same area as the mock-up where the roof structure rests over the wall

another component model to study the skylight relationship with the roof structure

27 November 2010

Habitat Antique is published in Dezeen!

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We are excited about our project, Habitat Antique, being published in Dezeen (read the article HERE) !

Habitat Antique is a small antique shop in Osaka Japan, made of stacked cedarwood, rice paper and linen fabric.

You can read more about the "making of" HERE in our previous blogsite....

Habitat Antique - photo Tomohiro Sakashita

Habitat Antique - photo Tomohiro Sakashita

Habitat Antique - photo Tomohiro Sakashita

Dezeen is an influential design and architecture online publication from London UK, with over 1 million readers per month.

26 November 2010

Habitat Antique is published in Dezeen!

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We are excited about our project, Habitat Antique, being published in Dezeen (read the article HERE) !
Habitat Antique is a small antique shop in Osaka Japan, made of stacked cedarwood, rice paper and linen fabric.
You can read more about the “making of” HERE in our previous blogsite….
Habitat Antique - photo Tomohiro Sakashita
Habitat Antique - photo Tomohiro Sakashita
Habitat Antique - photo Tomohiro Sakashita
Dezeen is an influential design and architecture online publication from London UK, with over 1 million readers per month.

much of a muchness? - Part II

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Continuing on from the last entry (see HERE) the next thing we needed to consider regarding material selection is........

2. Budget.

Still comparing between steel and timber, although potentially cheaper at supply, steel requires welding and subsequent galvanising/ painting, all adding on to the cost of the material.  There is also a great deal of coordination going into steel as it is manufactured off site and if any amendment is required (which may well be the case due to unforeseeable site issues), it will need to be brought back to factory, meaning cost and time.

On the other hand, with timber, it requires sealing on site which is much cheaper in cost comparing to welding and galvanising, and although it will also come prefabricated, it is a lot more workable on site.  With engineered timber (such as glulam), the strength is comparable to steel.

3. Aesthetic.

We want the building to be quite honest in all aspects: planning, structure, look.  unfortunately with the concept of defining the skin with structural element, it is very easy to fall into the trap of a warehouse/ factory aesthetic......especially with steel structure........

- so -

We decided to go ahead with timber.  Now the question is, which timber?

glulam timber choice we have: Tasmania Oak (Left), Pine (Right). Tasmania Oak is a hardwood with a warmer/ pink colouration, Pine is a softwood with paler/ yellow tone. There is an approximately 15% price difference ...our preference is Tasmania Oak here, although dearer, it has a better structural rating (and a nicer grain/ colouration...)

24 November 2010

much of a muchness? - Part I

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So we talked about the structural framework of Railway Parade, being the defining element of the "skin", which is the only area left for us as architects to design.

....All the linearity of the structure.....in our imagination it would be such an elegant geometry!

But as soon as we started to attach materiality to the geometry, we are entering a total new ball game.

We have 2 choices of material with such structural system - steel and timber.  Traditional masonry (concrete, blockwork etc) is out of the question this time.  Here we need to check a few thing...

1. Fire rating requirement of the structure.

We want the structure to be as refined as it can be, by adding fire-rated material onto the structure it will definitely make the structure bulkier.

Our building is quite small in floor area, hence we fall under Category C Construction under the BCA (Building Code of Australia) - which means structure does not require fire-rating as long as it is 3m away from fire source (here boundary onto neighbouring property is also considered as fire source).  So we went back to the drawing board, made that an executive decision and replanned the building to avoid fire-rating the structure.

Both steel and timber require extra attention with fire-rating, it has a massive impact on costing if we have to start introducing sprinkler, window drenching, etc etc to the building.  You would imagine that timber is out of the question if we are to fire-rate the structure......very wrong here!  Because timber has a charring effect during fire, the char formed on timber surface reduces the heat reaching to the timber core, hence reduces the speed of burning out.  In many ways timber performs better than steel in fire!

IN Shigeru Ban's GC Osaka Building, timber particle board was used as fire rating material to clad the steel structure. As timber does not transmit heat through, it prolonged the performance of the encased steel structure in the case of fire. Of course extensive testing was carried out and calculation is required regarding timber charring rate and density etc..... (photo taken from "Shigeru Ban" by Matilda McQuaid, published by Phaidon)

…….. to be continued tomorrow………….

23 November 2010

Up it goes!

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Don't blink! or you may miss out on the site progress!

From the "sutekon" (read about it HERE), the site has marched on to under-slab insulation, and without further ado the steel reinforcement has been located, tied and ready to go for concrete encasing!

The structure engineer has been on site to ensure that the amount and spacing of steel reinforcement is as specified and adequate...... it is going even faster than the speed of model building!

insulation over "sutekon", under the actual building slab

The board says: "Foundation Construction / laying under-slab insulation / thickness = 20mm"

all the steel reinforcement delivered

caging it up.....

strong foundation is the basis of a strong home!!

20 November 2010

The devil wears weatherboard/ concrete/ polycarbonate/ zinc....

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Having had a meeting with builder and client this week regarding Railway Parade, concern was raised regarding the "shell" constructability...

We have proposed to use GRC (Glassfibre Reinforced Concrete) to create a solid and low-maintenance building shell, but the weight of the shell components in relation to man-handling was questioned.

See, what we need to consider here is amount of time it will take to erect the building facade with people, and how much time we would need a crane on site. Then we need to think about how these people can work with the material (quoting Tadao Ando, "you have to feel the weight the builder feels on site")....before we can even start to TALK about the "aesthetic" of the building (we can THINK about it.....of course we do!).

Now we are looking at other ways to dress the building.  Here is my shopping list....I want something which is:



does not disturb the linear geometry of the structural elements,


easily manageable on site,

cost effective,

accommodates insulation to reduce energy consumption,

low in maintenance,

...... and looks good......

how many ways can we dress this building?

There are many available building materials to choose from, it is the matter of finding "the one".

19 November 2010

Honey, why do you throw away the concrete? - 捨てコン

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In Sydney it is quite common to form the foundation of a building with piles. In Japan, the soil settlement across the site is a lot more stable, hence a shallow foundation system was employed for M House.

(for the curious...piling is a form of deep foundation to deal with poor soil condition at shallow depth, read more about it HERE; Sydney has relatively sandy soil which is not so good for building foundations, read more about it HERE)

In order to set up a precise base to proceed onto further construction, a step in site preparation called "捨てコン" (read: "sutekon", meaning "concrete to throw-away") started the day before yesterday on M House site.  It is an important step in early phase of the construction, to provide a good level surface to accurately setout the building from the beginning.  It is not for structural strength.

A general run-down of "sutekon" (across 2 days).....from Japan with love......

Day01 Step01- removal of excavated soil from site

Day01 Step02- pouring in crushed rubbles

Day01 Step03- Levelling out the crushed rubbles

Day01 Step04- Compressing crushed rubble

Day01 Step05- confirming compressed rubble thickness

Day01 Step06- site condition at end of Day01

Day02 Step07- service piping and conduit embedment

Day02 Step08- laying waterproof membrane over crushed rubbles

Day02 Step 09- pouring thin layer of concrete (normally 30-50mm) over the waterproof membrane

Day02 Step10- double checking concrete thickness

Day02 Step11- voila! now we have a smooth surface to accurately setout the building

17 November 2010

How many ways to break into 4?

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Due to cost issues, the triangular glazing at the end of the roof space, instead of being frameless, it is now divided up by mullions........but how?

Apparently, according to calculation, the minimum glass sections we need to have for this triangular glazing area is 4 - if we want to have less, say 3 sections, then the price doubles.

how many ways can we break a triangle into 4 sections?

We had a few concerns..

1. will the mullions look like they are supporting the roof hence impact on the effect of floating roof? - with the dimension of the mullion (60mmx60mm), it will be unlikely.

2. will the verticality of the mullions conflict with the other geometries of the wall (eg, other windows)? - unlikely....after trying other geometries, diagonals etc, it is best to stay simple...

3. if we have a mullion at the centre of the triangle, will it disturb the other internal alignments (eg, bookshelf, roof rafters), should we mis-align them intentionally? - maybe.  however by breaking into 4 sections, it is difficult to avoid having mullion at the central location, unless if we go with odd numbers. but after trying out 5 sections, the number of mullions become more overpowering than the alignment.  In this case we have to go with the "better" option, if we can not have "best" (which is frameless)

breaking the glass into 4 sections

breaking the glass into 5 sections

So the verdict is....4 sections with vertical mullions.

In the end, the feature is the roof rafters.  Everything else needs to be suppressed to enhance that hierarchy otherwise the feature becomes lost.

With so much happening on site, we are racing with time!

16 November 2010

Spot it?

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Something we spotted on today's site photos that was a little peculiar......

Can you spot it?

What we found peculiar is ........  the blackboard in every photo!

On the board it says "M Family New Residential House Construction / Foundation Construction /  Excavation / Tanimura Construction Company"

Doesn't it remind you of this?


So yes, construction team started excavation for foundation today on site.......that's what I was trying to say...........