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EXPANDING THE MODULAR ARCH793A

Hieu Huynh


UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE Arch 793a Fall 2016


EXPANDING THE MODULAR Hieu Huynh

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Fig. 1.1

The Zip-Up House was a radical concept of its time when Richard Rogers first conceived it in 1967. Many would know Richard Rogers for his part in the renowned Centre Pompidou in Paris, but not many know what its predecessor was and the concept that drove towards the projects success. The Zip-Up House was an experiment of how dwellings in the modern age could be easily customizable and adapt to the owners needs and surroundings. Rogers’s interest of adaptable, affordable housing has always been a part of his practice for the past three decades of practice. The notion of adaptability and energy efficiency was not only limited to the residential but could be applied to the commercial and public realm as well. In some early renderings, Richard Rogers envisioned electric plug in cars and wind-powered energy, which now can be seen everywhere in modern times. Even though it was never built, it lead to a whole new perspective and it has made its mark on his future projects. The Zip-Up House paved the way for Richard Rogers’s future projects where traces of the Zip-Up House can be seen either in ways of spatial concept, materiality, or modularity. Fig. 1.1 Perspective sketch by Richard Rogers 1967


1 | History 2 | Documentation 3 | Analysis

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4 | Bibliography

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The Breakdown


HISTORY


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Fig. 2.2

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Fig. 2.3

Fig. 2.4

Fig. 2.5

Fig. 2.6


House Fig. 2.3 Reliance Controls Factory Fig. 2.4 Schindler House by Rudolf Schindler Fig. 2.5 Eames Case Study House by Charles and Ray Eames Fig. 2.6 Case Study 18b by Craig Ellwood

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Fig. 2.1 Team 4- (left to right)Su Rogers, Richard Rogers, Wendy Cheeseman, Norman Foster Fig. 2.2 Creek Vean

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Richard Rogers was born in Florence in 1933. He immigrated to England and joined the military before decided to study architecture. Richard Rogers was admitted to the Architectural Association School in London in 1954. He then went off to study at Yale University between 1961 and 1962. His instructors included Paul Rudolph, Serge Chermayeff and James Stirling. It was here that Richard Rogers met Norman Foster and the two would decide to team up when they were back in London. In 1963, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Wendy Cheeseman (later Wendy Foster) and Su Rogers (Rogers first wife) would start their own practice called “Team 4.” Teams 4’s first major project was the Creek Vean House for Su’s parents. This house was influenced by what Rogers and Foster had learned in the United States and was driven by the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. Years following, in 1966, the Reliance Controls factory was completed and was known for its flexibility, openness of plan, and tough elegance of structure and materials. Though the their projects were getting noticed and awards, Team 4 were unable to gain more commissions and dissolved at the end of 1967 due to lack of work. After Team 4’s dissolution, Richard Rogers would start a new practice with this then wife Su Rogers. John Young, who he had worked with before during Team 4’s time, would later join and contributed to small but significant projects. During Rogers’s time with Team 4 in 1967, he was very fascinated of what was going on in Los Angles with the Case Study houses. He began to think of possible prototypes for mass-produced, energyefficient houses as a solution to the world housing shortages. Some of the main Case Study houses that he was interested in were by Rudolf Schindler, Rafael Soriano and Craig Ellwood, and Charles and Ray Eames’s house, which were constructed as a prefabricated kit of parts. Before the energy-crisis in the 1970’s, Rogers had been working on projects that would be self-sufficient, where they would have electricity-generating windmills, and water would be recycled and reused. His vision of change and flexibility was a key design decision. The use of appropriate technology has always been important to Rogers and being able to take full advantage of its abilities.


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Fig. 3.2 Fig. 3.1

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Fig. 3.3

Fig. 3.4


Fig. 3.1 Front Elevation Model Fig. 3.2 Exterior Facade Model Fig. 3.3 View of Interior Layout Model Fig. 3.4 Model Elevation

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During the time of the Dupont competition, Richard Rogers was also designing a house for his parents, Nino and Dada Rogers. This would become the prototype for the Zip-Up house and his ideology of a house being assembled rather than built. From 1968 to 1969, Rogers was able to build the house using his concepts he had gathered from the Zip-Up house by using plastic coated aluminium panels joined with a neoprene system. The windows were also from contemporary buses that were readily available during at the time. His parent’s house was used as an exercise to see how he could incorporate growth and change but still remain self-sufficient. The Rogers’ House contained similar elements to the Zip-Up house but was not built on stilts and required steel structural beams across the modular units.

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This led up to the “Zip-Up House”, which would be a radical concept that was an energy-efficient modular structure that could be extended, altered, and even dismantled and moved by its owner. The Zip-Up house was a response to a design competition hosted by Dupont for “The House of Today” and was exhibited at the 1969 Ideal Home Exhibition in London. The goal was a low cost design that would require minimum maintenance and running cost. It was to also have a high degree on indoor environmental control. The walls were to have an insulation value seven times of the value of a traditional house so that one 3-kilowatt heater would be enough to heat the whole house. Richard Rogers took all these elements into account when he was designing for the competition. The name “Zip-Up” came from a mass-produced panel system of roof and walls that could be rapidly assembled into modular components using Neoprene “zips” as a fastening device to assemble the units together. The modular units had a clear span of nine meters and required no structural columns inside the space. The units could then be attached at each end to create a linear “container” that contained no fixed divisions. The Zip-Up house would also not have a permanent foundation, but instead have adjustable stilts that could adapt to any terrain and easily transported. The intention of design concept was to also be able to apply the same strategy to factories, offices, and even hotels, which would reduce the time and cost required of traditional building methods.


H i eu Hu yn h M.Arch 793 a Fig. 4.1

Fig. 4.2

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Fig. 4.3

Fig. 4.4

Fig. 4.5

Fig. 4.6


Richard Rogers is still practicing architecture today with his office Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners in London. Many of his projects today still emphasize research, experimentation, and supporting movements that he believes can improve our profession and world. To think that his work of the Zip-Up and Autonomous House projects were though of in the late 1960’s to 1980’s shows that these radical ideas could someday become the normal standard.

Fig. 4.1 Exterior Piazza Elevation of Centre Pompidou Fig. 4.2 UOP Factory Elevation Fig. 4.3 Southwest Corner of Centre Pompidou Fig. 4.4 UOP Factory interior Fig. 4.5 South Facade of Centre Pompidou Fig. 4.6 UOP Factory Interior Elevation

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Years after the initial design in 1969, the Universal Oil Products Company commissioned Rogers to build their factory in 1973, which was designed after the Zip-Up House. The demand was simple “to build a flexible, high-performance building that could be adapted to growth and change” which is the basis for the Zip-Up House. Other elements that continued over were low construction cost, minimum maintenance, and energy efficiency, which was important to the client. The walls of the factory comprised of large six inch thick sandwich panels, sealed with neoprene on a steel structure, which lowered assembly time. The factory was broken down to 4 areas: administration, laboratories, manufacturing, and storage. The spaces were divided by demountable floor to ceiling glass partitions, except for the storage, which contained flammable materials. This effect created a sense of transparency and spaciousness or in Rogers’ case the “linear container” that made the space larger than it seemed. After completion in 1974, the project was widely publicised, which then helped Rogers’ reputation with the industrial field.

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In 1971, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano teamed up for a competition to design the Centre Pompidou. They won the competition with much public acceptance and controversy. This project essentially brought Rogers into the international spotlight and is still one of the most iconic structures in post war era. It emphasised the concept of flexibility, materiality, and standardized parts for assembly. All of the main circulation, structure, and mechanical systems were integrated to the exterior façade, emulating a modernized Archigram. Elements and ideas of the Zip-Up House are seen throughout the project, such as the open flexible spaces freed by having elements on the exterior and the standard structural components used because it was readily available at the time. The prefabricated parts made it seem as if the centre was more assembled than built. The Design intention was to create a “live centre of information and entertainment” which has been proven true due to the amount of visitors to the project.


DOCUMENTATION


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Fig. 5.1

Fig. 5.1 Exploded axon sketch by Richard Rogers


Architect | Richard Rogers Date | 1967-1969(Unbuilt) Location | Anywhere Program | Multiple Size | Varies Structure | Structural Walls Foundation | Adjustable columns and Bracing

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Zip-Up House

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H i eu Hu yn h M.Arch 793 a — pa g e 18 — Jose Sa n c hez U SC 201 6 Fig. 6.1

Fig. 6.1 Open Floor Plan showing removable partitions


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1/4”= 1’-0”


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Fig. 7.2

Fig. 7.1 Longitudinal Section without partitions Fig. 7.2 Longitudinal Section with partitions Fig. 7.3 Cross Section without partitions Fig. 7.4 Cross Section without partitions


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Fig. 7.3

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Fig. 7.4

1/4”= 1’-0”


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Fig. 8.1

Fig. 8.1 Longitudinal Elevation Fig. 8.2 Cross Elevation


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Fig. 8.2

1/4”= 1’-0”


H i eu Hu yn h M.Arch 793 a — pa g e 24 — Jose Sa n c hez U SC 201 6 Fig. 9.1

Fig. 9.1 Exploded Axon of Parts Fig. 9.2 Perspective Cross Section


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Fig. 9.2


H i eu Hu yn h M.Arch 793 a — pa g e 26 — Jose Sa n c hez U SC 201 6 Fig. 10.1

Fig. 10.1 Perspective Longitudinal Section


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Fig. 11.1


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The Zip-Up House offers multiple wall configurations to give the consumer options on how they would like their house to be. These wall panels could be interchangeable or replaced as needed. The panels are designed after American refrigerated trucks for their high thermal insulation ratings as well as for their structural integrity. The glazing of the panels is from standard bus windows that were readily available in 1976. The interior partitions was also aluminium and insulated panels sandwiched together but did not need to be structural as they needed to be light to maneuver and could be oriented to different configurations. Fig. 11.1 Detail section of wall panel by Richard Rogers Fig. 11.2 Sample of glazing and door configurations

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Fig. 11.2


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Fig. 12.1


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The roof panels of the Zip-Up House are similar to the wall panels in construction and have various locations available for the glazing. The floor panels are of similar construction, but have an option of access panels for mechanical and plumbing required for the home.

Fig. 12.1 Enlarged Roof Panel Fig. 12.2 Sample of glazing location on roof panels

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Fig. 12.2


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B.

Fig. 13.1

C.


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Fig. 13.2

he structure of the Zip-Up House consist of adjustable jacks that could adapt to multiple types of terrain. This idea allowed for the house to be easily adaptable to where ever it gets moved to and then readapt to another location if it were to be relocated. The structure consists of three parts: adjustable jacks(A), cross bracing cable wires(B), and floor beams(C) to support the units. The adjustable jacks will have shallow concrete footings(D) but are not permanently fixed and to be easily removed when relocating.

Fig. 13.1 Structural Jacks and Components Fig. 13.2 Perspective of Structure Applied


ANALYSIS


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Fig. 14.1


This prototype allowed Richard Rogers to show the public that architecture does not need to be a complicated building process that cost a lot of money. The thought of having a customizable home that you can expand over time, customizable, movable, efficient and affordable was unheard of. Another modular housing project at the time was Moshe Safdie’s Habitat ’67 and Fig. 14.1 Perspective Rendering of Exteriors

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I have always had an interest in the Centre Pompidou and curious of the events that led to its conception. The Zip-Up House fascinated me in the way that it was such ahead of its time. In earlier sketches done in 1976 by Rogers, there are plug in electric cars and wind turbines. These things are a normal aspect of our modern lives and yet, he had seen the potential even outside of the architectural aspect. He envisioned a structure that could be assembled instead of built and above all, flexible. The elements that I am interested in with this project is the fact that even though it was never built, it influenced his career and the different ways you can look outside the architecture realm for inspiration. The simple materials like insulated refrigerator trucks used as the envelope, a neoprene zipper system to attach the panels as well as making it water tight and standard bus windows readily found at the time. The option of being able to disassemble the house into its components and relocate without having to purchase a new home is another element that I found very appealing. In one of Rogers’ sketches, he shows that these linear containers could form a community that each one has its own unique “parts” according to the owners needs and the location of it can vary such as on land or in the water. The fact that you can relocate in many places and only have to adjust the structural stilts that keeps the structure elevated is amazing. The option to customize your own floor plan is a creative element in the project as well and it follows the main idea of flexibility. These movable partitions are not load bearing so they can remain light and allow for multiple configurations that can be decided by the owner. The Zip-Up House offered a factory-produced house offering adaptability and personal choice. He was able to use what was available at the time and I believe if he could do it again in modern times, it would look completely different, yet still have the main elements that are in the Zip-Up house.

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The Zip-Up House was a significant element in Richard Rogers career in part that it allowed him to be true to his ideology and opposition of being “frozen” in architectural methods. He supports the explorative side of architecture and pushes himself and others to make a difference. He has always placed flexibility before monumentality, taking advantage of the resources available at the time, pushing for experimentation and looking towards the future.


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Fig. 15.1


Fig. 15.1

Drawings by Richard Rogers 1967- Vision of community of Zip-Up Houses(Left), Zip-Up House on

Mountainous Terrain(Right), Perspective Concept Section Drawing(Bottom)

— page 39 — Jose Sa n c hez U SC 2016

I believe that the potential of the Zip-Up House was limited due to the technology available at the time. The components that were designed could be modified to allow for variable changes in verticality. The current composition is limited to the X or Y-axis and can only be in one of those directions. With today’s technological advances in prototyping and making community, I believe that we can still have the notion of complete flexibility without compromising the structural integrity and creating parts that can be arranged in infinite

H i eu Hu yn h M.Arch 793 a

it was a project that addressed the modularity but was limited on the mobility. The possibility of mass customization could have multiple configurations keeping the owner in control. Using standard materials that were available and inexpensive provided a more sustainable option and units could be expanded, as the owner is able to purchase another “part” to extend their home. With the concept of an open interior space free of structure, it allowed factories like the Universal Oil Products Company to be able to change their configuration of the factory and not limited by structural columns that would be in a standard building of that time. Though the Zip-Up House was designed to allow maximum flexibility and customization, I believe that it is still limited in its own parameters. The notion that the owner can expand their home is great, but may only do so in a single linear direction. This “kit” is a holistic set that has a certain set of instructions and limited to a certain outcome. Each piece requires the other to make a whole, such as wall panels require floor and roof panels to complete the space. The whole as a customizable element only varies in the size, doors, and window openings. It each piece still has its designated location and can `be just that. The only “customizable” aspect is the option of window opening and its location on the panel. In Rogers’ drawing of his vision of a community that consist of these Zip-Up houses, there is not much variation besides the length, window options and building location. There is a specific system that sets the rules for how one could assemble the parts where if there were no instructions, it could only be assembled in one way. This is opposite from what is possible for the LEGO product as Jose Sanchez states: “While a particular LEGO product will contain the specific pieces to be assembled into 1 final structure (the jigsaw model), LEGO as a system, is a non-holistic set. By this I mean that it does not describe a whole, but rather just a discrete relation of parts. Only some of those parts arranged in one particular assembly, could become a particular outcome, but they also might not.”(Jose Sanchez, 2014) I would agree with that statement and the Zip-Up House opposes the factors of being non-holistic, because the components are parts that describe a whole to only have one common outcome.


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Fig. 16.1


Fig. 16.1 Concept Rendering of a 3D Printed Building in Dubai(Top) 3D Printed Office of the Future in Dubai(Bottom)

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Richard Rogers used materials and technology that was readily available in 1976. With today’s digital culture, the readily available “material” would be the digital connection with the world. Similar to the open source component of the Wiki House, I envision the modular of the future as parts that can expand in various ways other than in the physical, but influenced by the digital as well to create mass-produced/mass-customizational parts that can be an independent component or parts of a whole that communicate with each other to create spatiality. The recent increase of autonomous technology in the automotive industry can influence how our built environment can be selfassembled autonomously using a system of parts that communicate with each other. I imagine that these mass-produced parts can communicate with each other according to the type of program, style, or set of rules, they would make calculated decisions and self-assemble. With a simple command to expand, they parts would assemble options for the owner and could disassemble and reassemble with its new configuration without giving up quality of connection.

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configurations. The concept of the modular that can be expanded when needed is the goal. Prefabricated mass-produced units today remain static once it is produced and assembled. Once disassembled, it will not have the same “fitting” as to how it was the first time it was assembled. For example, IKEA furniture comes as a holistic kit that requires the consumer to assemble the parts according to a set of instructions, but once the parts are dismantled and reassembled, they have changed physically and do not fit the same. With the accuracy of digital fabrication, I believe that the inconsistencies can be limited or removed and have no impact when dismantled like how the Zip-Up house uses the neoprene system to assemble the components.


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Bibliography:

Powell, Kenneth, Robert Torday, and Richard George. Rogers. Richard Rogers: Architecture of the Future. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006. Print. Rattenbury, Kester, Richard George. Rogers, and Samantha Hardingham. Richard Rogers: The Pompidou Centre. Oxon: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Sanchez, Jose. “Polyomino – Reconsidering Serial Repetition in Combinatorics. | ACADIA 2014.” Academia.edu - Share Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. “ZipUp House · Projects · Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.” ZipUp House · Projects · Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2016. http://www.rsh-p.com/projects/zipup-house

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Richard Rogers Architects: From the House to the City. London: Fiell Pub., 2010. Print

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Burdett, Richard. Richard Rogers Partnership: Works and Projects. New York: Monacelli, 1996. Print. Cinqualbre, Olivier. Richard Rogers Architectes: Ouvrage Publié à L’occasion De L’exposition Présentée Au Centre Pompidou, Galerie Sud, Du 21 Novembre 2007 Au 3 Mars 2008. Paris: Editions Du Centre Pompidou, 2007. 38-41. Print.


Expanding the Modular  

Thesis precedent study for Arch793a with thesis advisor Jose Sanchez

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