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MAXMASS™ Construction Technologies

“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.”    
R. Buckminster-Fuller

MAXMASS™ Construction Technologies business concept is a direct product of The SURI Project R&D activities and covers a growing range of technical solutions, construction process systems, equipment and building products for the MAXMASS approach to design and construction of next-generation housing. These solutions are being developed for commercialisation and to facilitate growth of this revolutionary alternative and complementary sector of the future residential construction industry.

MAXMASS Construction Technologies are designed to leverage the abundant resources and infrastructure of the concrete construction industry and well proven methods used in commercial and industrial construction. These are combined in a domestic-scale package that offers a powerful alternative to traditional timber construction and comprehensively addresses all modern performance and durability requirements of housing. The MAXMASS approach also removes many of the challenges in meeting regulatory compliance for permits and approvals, and outperforms all other forms of construction for user comfort, safety and health.

MAXMASS is an extremely efficient form of construction that is primarily design-driven, formulated to take guess-work and inefficiencies out of the construction process, and also designed to combine the best aspects of pre-fabrication and site-building. Construction without design is impossible, and equally design without construction can never lead to completed buildings, these two things are fully dependant on one another. Responding to this, the MAXMASS approach increases efficiencies and improves built outcomes by intertwining Design and Construction theories and practices throughout the process of making buildings, from the initial idea to completion. This approach works effectively due to the selection of core EPS and Concrete materials, components and associated systems of MAXMASS Construction Technologies.

To understand the unique aspects of how this is applied, consider MAXMASS as primarily two things:

1. Thinking

2. Building

MAXMASS Thinking 

MAXMASS Thinking requires a break away from the familiar mindset of frames and voids, jointed parts and skins to make building elements. MAXMASS is building things out of solid concrete mass, delivered to site as a liquid and formed into primary structure.

Thinking about solid elements formed in place is a lot simpler than adding up the hundreds or thousands of components and joints required in traditional framed building, and consists to two easy to understand things:

1. Concrete forming elements or moulds assembled on site and left permanently in place

2. Reinforced Concrete 

Although relatively simple, this can be challenging to many industry practitioners and often requires the ‘unlearning’ of many traditional methods and actively learning how to think MAXMASS.

MAXMASS Building

MAXMASS structure is formed on site, in place, and utilises industry proven EPS and ICF concrete forming products and methods. The significant difference is that the entire system and methodology has been optimised as a comprehensive system-based approach at the design stage and takes current ICF construction to a new level of resolve and usefulness. 

MAXMASS is based on the concept of easily assembled Permanent EPS moulds as a ‘delivery-device for Concrete’ structure. 

The particular technologies developed for MAXMASS leverage many existing ICF (Insulating Concrete Formwork) technologies, but are not reliant or dependant on any particular brand or specific ICF type. ICF products are only part of the system which also includes various unique void-forming and void-filling EPS elements specifically designed for a particular building project along with specialised cavity-closer and window sub-frame elements, suspended floor elements and other components that combine everything in a cohesive system. 

Since many of the components are manufactured in EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) they are very lightweight to transport, manage on site, are easy to assemble and place, and are non-toxic and safe to work with. Work can also proceed extremely efficiently in virtually any weather by lightly trained personnel. Only the critical stages of installing steel reinforcing and placing of concrete into the EPS formwork for the finished structure need to be carried out by specifically experienced tradespeople. Following concrete placing, finishing stages can proceed almost immediately, with commercial/industrial processes maximising on-site efficiency.

The obvious benefits of this process include reducing risks associated with materials that are fragile or vulnerable to moisture or rain during construction, reduced sub-contractor involvement, and elimination of the many and often fragmented stages in traditional construction. Efficiency across all stages can be achieved with MAXMASS.

Bringing Together the Parts

The SURI Project research has not only identified the principal components required to successfully deliver a fresh alternative approach to design and construction, but also the multitude of underlying impacts of building, and how this affects all aspects of sustainable building and development objectives. To articulate the many levels and apsects of the research there needed to be a way of connecting them to provide real meaning and a method of understanding the relationships. The result is MAXMASS.

The key components of MAXMASS are:

  • Resilience and Sustainability within an Urban Resilience and Ecological Resilience framework
  • Sustainable Construction (SC) methodologies for structure and control of construction processes
  • Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) relating to materials, components and their application

This diagram illustrates their overlapping characteristics and identifies the principal areas of activity required to deliver on the SURI Project objectives. 

MAXMASS directly falls into the definition of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). 

MMC can be defined as those that provide greater efficiency in the construction process, resulting in increased production, better quality, in less time and with less waste, so reducing the environmental impact.
A construction process that can encompass the use of composite new and traditional materials and components often with extensive factory produced sub-assembly sections and components. This may be in combination with accelerated on-site assembly methods and often to the exclusion of many of the construction industry traditional trades.

For the Architect, MAXMASS provides the ability to design structure and architectural form with freedom and ease following a more efficient industrial approach to construction. Design time and effort dealing with constructional issues is minimised allowing more time to concentrate on technical and finishing detail.

For the Engineer, MAXMASS structure is entirely familiar and is designed the same way as any insitu concrete building under the same codes and standards, and providing the same built outcome.

For the Developer/Builder, MAXMASS provides an efficient, factory-produced set of lightweight parts that can be programmed for quick and efficient manual assembly on site. The system allows for tight cost management, reliable construction programming, limited weather dependence and efficient utilisation of human resources.

When considered within growing market volume demands due to urbanisation, ageing housing stock and increasing housing density, the commercial potential of MAXMASS and the associated MAXMASS technologies is VERY significant and essentially open-ended.

Consumer Perception

The research found that the options available with concrete used for residential construction can be confusing for the consumer and in many cases even for the building industry. Descriptions are typically over technical and often only identify individual brands, components or treatments rather than an overall, easily understood concept. For example; precast, insitu, block, panel, ICF, SIP etc. This is further complicated by manufacturer preferences for using their brand names to identify building methods.

To describe a relatively easily understood concept of Maximised use of highly insulated Reinforced Insitu Concrete requires a term that is equally as easy to adopt by all people involved in building activities, from the purchaser to the Architect, consultants, supplier, and builder, and most importantly to the consumer. A name also needs to reflect the key characteristic of the material or system, and be flexible in its use to apply to all aspects of building including design.

The Suri Project established and registered the brand trademark for the name MAXMASS which elegantly describes both the intent, and the key characteristic of the primary material.

MAXMASS is what the name suggests: Maximum Mass – Concrete Mass.

Read further to Learn More about MAXMASS Attributes...