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The future is here By Stig Vagnes

T he

Universal Modular Building System (UMBS) by architect Magnus G. Bjornsson is a revolutionary solution to modern house design challenges. UMBS overcomes the market obstacle of a lack of builders and often timeconsuming construction methods. The UMBS is as simple as it is genius. By making steel-frame modules that can be used in a similar way as Lego bricks, ready to - go residential houses can be built to a lock-up stage in a matter of days and completely finished in a matter of weeks. The unique system assists in allowing individual architectural solutions and building of anything from simple one-room studio units to up market houses and multi-story buildings at affordable prices. A prototype of the system has already been built on Macleay Island in Queensland. This is a holiday / residence of approx. 110 sq metres on two levels. Another house is currently under construction on Russell Island. Architect Magnus G. Bjornsson said he was satisfied with the success of the project, and has

Multi level living area possible with UMBS.

Macklay Island hosts the prototype of the Universal Modular Building System.

already applied some further improvements to his next project. “I believe that this environmentally friendly way of building houses is a far more dynamic, economical and logical solution to overcoming the problems of building a traditional property,” Bjornsson said. According to Mr. Bjornsson, UMBS houses are perfect for sustainable living, being very well insulated, including excellent fire rating, sound proofing and incorporating a heat-sinking capacity, thus modifying temperature swings. Further inclusions in current projects are; a rainwater tank, a solar hot water system and reuse of treated effluent for gardens. “Since I graduated from the Architectural University of Oslo, Norway, I’ve looked for an easier and cheaper way of building houses without compromising quality,“ he said.

Bjornsson already has plans ready for bigger projects, and has submitted a plan for a 14 unit building in Europe. The architect is now looking for a marketing and construction partner in Europe. Mr Bjornsson pointed out that the system was designed to fit any topographical challenge, and because of it is light weight, it is perfect for neglected opportunities in inner city areas, such as building on top of car parking houses, supermarkets and over railway tracks. City planners in Brisbane have shown interest in the system for these reasons, according to Bjornsson. The secret lies in standardised steel frames that connect to obtain suitable sizes and layouts.


A variety of roof forms are possible, and units are easily transportable. With a module width of 3.6 x 3.6 metres, and height of 3.0 m, their lightweight and extreme strength allow them to be airlifted into place in inaccessible areas.

Magnus G. Bjornsson at work. (Photo: Stig Vagnes)

The system is flexible enough to meet the requirements of individual looks and any topography. Because of it’s light weight and robust strength it can easily be used to construct different types of buildings, from a single storey home to multistorey units, motels, schools, tourist accommodation and office buildings, with the added benefit of being easily extendable when circumstances warrant that.

Early stages of construction with UMBS

The modules are either delivered as flat-packed components, bolted together on the building site, or they can be factory built as rigid, steel framed cubicles, plaster or plywood lined inside with various alternative externalcladding materials available. Each main frame is 13 m² in area.

The system is particularly attractive when used in conjunction with CSRHEBEL Power panel (=aerated concrete) floor system, and Power panel wall system. CSR has modified the size of some of these elements to fit the UMBS steel frames, (in cold climates this construction is changed to a combination of an external 75mm Polyurethane- fibre concrete sandwich element with an internal Power panelelement). Outside the walls are coated with Rockcote or equivalent quality masonry coating. Floors are tiled in a conventional way straight on top of the aerated concrete floor elements. After footings and 'in ground plumbing' have been provided, a Universal Modular Building System- house manufactured to any International standard can be sited and finished to a lock-up stage in a matter of a few days. The Universal Modular Building System is not only a modularised system; the number of structural components has also been cut to an absolute minimum.

Since all structural building materials come premanufactured, both the frameconstruction and all consequent building activity is an assembly only and material waste is cut to an absolute minimum.

The roofing system being constructed on site.

A further feature of the simplicity of the system is that it allows semiskilled and unskilled workers to be employed under skilled supervision, without diminished quality of the final product. Workers quickly gain the skills required due again to the simplicity and repetition of tasks. Bjornsson and his partners are at present seeking to expand their business to Europe, and expect an interest from the construction industry, as this system will save both time and money. Builders and developers have already identified the flexible multipurpose building system as the answer to the restrictions of conventional building methods. “Only our imagination is a limit to the use of this system”, Magnus G. Bjornsson said. MAGNUS G. BJORNSSON

SIVIL ARKITEKT, MNAL/FAI (UNIVERSITY OF ARCHITECTURE, OSLO NORWAY) ADDRESS: PHONE: EMAIL:

5 CASSANDRA ST. ROCHEDALE QUEENSLAND 4123 0434 199 011 norarch@optusnet.com.au

The future is here by Stig Vagnes  

Magazine analysing newly developed modular system.

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