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The SURI Project
Phase 3
Research House

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SURI MAXMASS™ Research House

The SURI Project is now entering The Most Exciting Phase!

A specifically designed Research House is to be constructed that realises the SURI Project research our MAXMASS methods of Concrete Design and Construction. The house wiill test and verify technical solutions and demonstrate a fresh new approach to modern concrete high-performance residential building based on ICF construction.

This type of project aimed at gathering detailed and holistic construction and performance data from Concrete and ICF construction methods has never been undertaken to this extent in any part of the world. It is unique in that the project is designed as a testing facility from the outset, encompassing every step from design activities and technical resolution, through site preparation, material selection, construction processes, logistics, and occupancy related performance standards. 

The project is specifically formulated to demonstrate new alternative and modern construction methods and the very real opportunities and benefits that exist across building related industries, markets and employment sectors, primary and secondary industry stakeholders, and the consumer as purchasers and long-term end-users.

Indicative Illustrations of SURI Project Research House

Research House Project Details

The SURI Research House Project is designed to test an optimised and comprehensive form of Concrete and Expanded Polystyrene Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) construction and is a major evolutionary step toward achieving a universally better performing and readily accessible housing solution. This project includes testing the application of both enhanced and new design and construction methodologies, and associated product and system selections and their integration. Documented research will be conducted throughout the design, management and construction phases, with a final study and evaluation of post construction building performance.

The Research House will not rely on any traditional timber frame materials or techniques and is not a hybrid form of ICF/Timber construction. This is essential in order to produce clean data and outcomes uncontaminated by the inclusion of conventional and traditional building materials and process. 

The Research Project activities are split into four distinct and formally structured themes:

Theme 1.  Design and Planning

Theme 2. Construction Process, Management and Logistics

Theme 3.  Ethical/Responsible Resourcing of materials and Products

Theme 4.  Post-Construction evaluation, Performance in-use

The Research Project house is designed to test the efficiency of a two-stage industrial/commercial construction process. The structural and thermal building envelope of insitu reinforced concrete will be formed entirely within site-assembled EPS concrete formwork as the first stage, followed by a comprehensive internal fitout stage.

Phase 1. Structural Weathertight Shell 

The Phase 1 structural shell will utilise a variety of optimised ICF and specialised EPS formwork and other components that, following concrete placement, will permanently encapsulate all concrete structural elements of the building envelope. This phase will test a combination of partial pre-fabrication and site construction and provide a platform to evaluate the application and integration of associated materials, products and systems. This will include aspects of DFMA (Design For Manufacture and Assembly) processes, and application and integration of BIM (Building Information Modelling) as the primary design and documentation software environment.

The structural shell will incorporate a number of built-in attributes such as specialised structural engineering resilient design (due its location in a seismically active area), together with a range of documented sustainable construction solutions, MFA (Materials Flow Analysis), and various forms of verifiable environmental impact data. 

This phase will also allow for comprehensive testing of air leakage and air-change requirements and the installation of equipment to measure actual thermal heat-sink characteristics of insulated high-mass concrete building elements. This will provide specific data for evaluating such things as HRV systems, heating/cooling system design, and calculation of actual and expected energy loads to inform future energy modelling tools.

Phase 2. Internal Fitout 

The Phase 2 internal fitout will follow aspects of conventional commercial building process. The internal fitout and finish will test the planning, logisitcs and application of commercial-quality materials and efficient installation methods within a residential building context. This phase will also investigate time and cost, and various integrated material, product and system selections, their application, and their use within sustainable construction, MFA and environmental impact criteria.

The house will be occupied post-construction to further test and monitor systems and evaluate thermal performance, energy use, and human comfort. This will also allow for identification of any post-construction quality issues, and inform a long-term maintenance template for this form of construction.

Research Project Objectives

The primary objectives are to demonstrate and validate this method of EPS/Con crete High-Mass Concrete construction within a demanding residential construction environment and to provide validated and documented baselines on which to base further Research & Design activities and development of commercial technologies.

1. To build on prior and in-house research and development activities within The SURI Project by constructing a Research House that will deliver a range of new data and technical information to inform further in-house, academic and industry based research and development activities, and commercial applications.

2. Establish a range of baseline data results for the following: 

  • BIM integration with project programming, logistics, site management and assembly, and labour requirements.

  • Thermal characteristics of EPS Encapsulated Concrete and identify temperature variables of thermal mass structural elements, internal spaces for human comfort, and the diurnal and seasonal relationships between the two.

  • Energy load data from hydronic floor heating and the relationship with concrete structure temperatures having effect on optimum internal space temperatures for human comfort.

  • Structural data and analysis of reinforced insitu concrete as it relates to strict seismic load conditions including structural design options for suspended concrete floors and concrete reinforcing options including investigating the viability of metal fibre reinforcement.

3. Establish a replicable framework for meeting regulatory code compliance requirements as they apply to both the core ICF system and other integrated materials and finishes at design stage. 

4. Obtain thermal and energy data for contribution to and integration with existing and emerging datasets and energy and performance modelling. 

5. Investigate the potential and options for an optimised scalable ‘parallel but separate’ domestic building industry functioning alongside the existing traditional industry to enable expansion of capacity to meet higher future building volume demand and stricter performance standards.

6. Develop a replicable design stage framework for ethical/responsible resourcing of raw and processed materials and components relating to products and systems utilised in the construction of the Research House Project.

7. Develop a maintenance program framework covering the extended life of this type of house construction and its material and system selections.

8. Establish project cost and accounting data for market price evaluation and product positioning.

Commercial PurposeOutcomes and Applications

The technologies and componentry used, and the overall approach to the development of the Research House Project is specifically designed to be replicable and scalable, peoducing technical resolve, data and details readily applicable to a wide variety of buildings from single unit housing to multi-unit, multi floor and medium-high density residential development.

The knowledge, systems and componentry developed from the project will contribute to greater efficiency and potentially significant expansion of building industry capacity. A variety of proprietary items such as specifically developed construction and finishing components, optimised construction equipment, and specialised design, construction and logistics management systems will be able to be accessed and adopted by industry participants through a range of purchasing or licensing channels.

Read more about the SURI Project, MAXMASS and what drives the initiative...