Modular Temporary Buildings

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Temporary Buildings are constructed for a variety of uses but none more serious than those used as shelters in a disaster.  Sure we see them in use as schools and storage buildings and even temporary housing like workforce house so temporary buildings play an important role in everyday life.  The challenge for the temporary building manufacturer if trying to design buildings that are effective and applicable across a wide range of uses. We, however; have chosen a slightly different path.  Our focus on disaster relief shelter and low cost affordable housing have allowed us to focus on temporary buildings with an eye on transitioning them to permanent. The reason is quite simple:  temporary structures needed for a disaster victim to survive often become the only thing they have to live in for years, maybe ever.  

The not so temporary building

One thing is for certain: developing a temporary solution that is truly temporary leads to things like tents that do not last very long at all.  Hence they fit within the definition of temporary.  But when temporary need outlast the life of the structure then what?  People are left vulnerable.  However; on the other side of the spectrum is overdoing it.  Delivering permanent structures or prefabricated building that are much too expensive to service thing like disasters and although good intentioned just add tremendous costs that can not be sustained.

The alternative building 

We hope that what we have done is strike a balance.  We have often talked about this balance; the one between temporary and permanent structures and constantly look for ways to achieve it.  To complicate our efforts we also looked at the need to deliver structures in overwhelming quantities.  How else does one service a disaster if you are not able to provide for the masses?  One of our conclusions then led us to consider an alternative.  What if we could deliver a permanent building at the price of a truly temporary solution (i.e. tents).  What might that look like?  Well we are not 100 percent there but we have made great strides over the years and the solution lies in delivering a commodity product that is not often thought of as a viable temporary building.  

The “Foam Home”

Our first forays into this quest led us to develop products using foams.  We’re not the first ones to do this.  As a matter of fact more foam is in use in the construction of your home then you realise.  Were not talking about the soft foam like the stuff under you head, we’re talking about industrial grade foams used in construction.  One of the great advantages of this material is that it is a relatively inexpensive product and is available in very large quantities.  Because we felt a commodity solution was “the” solution this seemed to fit the bill.  Hence, we developed a series of monolithic structures that are foam only buildings.  It is pretty amazing how strong those building are and they still stand today.  The “foam home” is meant for rapid construction.  There is nothing else in the world, that we found that offers the speed of construction as foam; mix, pour, wait.  In about an hour you’ll have an amazingly strong, long lasting shelter.  Not only that, is insect and rot resistant, and just about impossible to fall apart (it’s all one piece remember – nothing to fall off or come apart) and being modular means you can hook several together.

Then came the Field Built SIP Panel

As great as the foam home is we still wanted more.  We wanted more flexibility, more balance between temporary and permanent. Truth is, once you build the monolithic structure, although it is relatively light as far as buildings are concerned, it is still one piece.  It can be moved and taken to the recipients permanent plot of land after a disaster but it was best if it was built where it was going to stay.  So, sticking to the commodity vision, sticking with structural foams, sticking with the idea that a temporary building does not need to be flimsy, we borrowed off of conventional construction and added a twist.  You may not be aware but SIP Panels are a type of construction used in the US since the 1950’s (that’s 65 years ago).  They are a rapid building method that uses large panels to construct the wall and the roof.  The panels have an inside surface and an outside surface and guess what; a foam core.  Having become well versed in foam we knew it would be quite easy to miniaturize what we were doing and make panels.  

How did this improve what we are working on achieving?  Simple, it added three things:  

  1. SIP Panels are easy to disassemble so they improved the temporary definition of the structure.  This means temporary building can be taken down much easier.
  2. They are much stronger than the monolithic structure due in large part to the inside and outside skins on the SIP panel so they would last much longer.
  3. They provide the opportunity to make many “other” types of buildings.  SIP panels can be connected together to not only make shelters but  affordable housing schools, clinics, and affordable housing.

So what’s different?

Simple!  Although SIP Panels are readily available in the USA, Canada, and many parts of Europe, they can not be shipped affordably.  Many have tried but they simply take up too much space.  So, we leveraged our experience with foams and our “field” built commodity mentality and decided we would make it possible to build with sip panels anywhere in the world.  This is how the field build sip press came into existence.  Not only that but sip panels are built in a limited number of sizes.  This means one size (ok, two or three sizes) fits all.  Well not so fast.  There is no reason a shelter or small structure needs to be built using sip panels that are 4-1/2 or 6-1/2 inches thick.  This is overkill.  So we made our SIP panel press universally adjustable to fit a wide range of applications so a thin wall sip, or a thick wall sip, or any thickness sip is now available. Where? Anywhere!