MAXMASS is the commercial description of our unique approach to solving the problem of delivering higher performing next-generation housing through better methods of construction, using superior materials designed and assembled in ways that offer real change to the way we build the domestic-scale built environment.
The technologies behind MAXMASS continue to evolve through extensive R&D carried out within The SURI Project. The research includes analysis of the various ways housing is currently built in many local and international regions, and the challenges to comprehensively meeting both legislated and market-driven performance standards in modern residential building. Research identified that many significant aspects of current and traditional methods of domestic scale construction are clearly deficient, and new advanced ways of building are urgently needed to house rapidly growing urban propulations and replace severley aged and vulnerable existing housing stock.
It was identified that while timber frame construction has market domination through both traditional use and aggressive industry forces, timber construction methods can be seen in numerous cases to struggle to technically perform under three key primary standards:
2. Human Comfort and Energy
3. Resource efficiency
To meet durabilty requirements, timber construction faces increasingly stringent requirements and new methods of construction that will mitigate threats from moisture penetration, fire exposure, insect attack, and vulnerability to extreme natural forces. To mitigate these threats, timber frame construction is becoming extraordinarily complex to design, and complex to assemble in construction practice. In addition, residential construction that does not meet legislated and consumer-oriented durability criteria often leads to legal liabilities and claims for failure associated with degradation of timber as the primary structural material. Increasing complexity is designed to protect the fundamental underlying vulnerability of timber itself, although the inherent vulnerability of timber as a critical structural material is seldom questioned.
Growing consumer and market awareness and interest in the environmental aspects of housing construction from material resourcing, energy use and waste, to environmental damage and loss of natural amenity are further complicating aspects of housing design, material selection and construction. This is also alongside achieving better energy efficiency, human health and comfort as important factors.
There is clear evidence that satisfying these many demands with traditional timber building methods is leading to increased construction difficulty, resource limitations and increased cost to the consumer for housing, without necessarily solving the problem.
The SURI Project research evaluated a variety of construction methodologies from entirely site-built approaches to entirely pre-fabricated offerings using a wide range of materials. The research looked at the base materials and their flow from extraction to final use, complexity of manufacturing, transport and logistics, energy demands, human resources, trade skills and training, to comparison against a number of performance, environmental and durability benchmarks. As a result of this evaluation of readily available modern building materials, methods and techniques that could comprehensively satisfy modern objectives, it was identified that the most effective, environmentally healthy and readily available base material for residential construction is Reinforced Concrete, and in particular site-formed insitu concrete.
Monolithic, wall-based insitu-concrete structures have repeatedly proven to be the most robust, durable and resilient building structures for small-medium rise buildings. Since this type of structure consists of vertical wall and horizontal floor elements continuously connected across their edge boundaries, they do not rely on mechanical connections between individual elements or engineered connections between members that can be vulnerable to unexpected or extreme forces. Continuous insitu reinforced concrete structures are more resistant to in-plane shear forces, and have the ability to transfer load more effectively throughout a three-dimensional building envelope. This is of great importance in any areas subjected to extreme wind or seismic acitvity, and anywhere long-term durability is important.
High-mass concrete structures are also well understood to be effective contributors to energy efficiency as well as being an inert material and not requirinig any additives to aid performance that may be toxic to humans or the environment. Concrete construction can readily provide more comfortable, safer and healthier living environments with an appropriate design approach. Reinforced concrete structure can also fcilitate house construction methods that more closely follow those of commercial and industrial buildings where higher levels of durability, overall robustness, and a greater life-span can be achieved without extensive or specific design and construction.
Forming insitu concrete structures in-place requires formwork which is typically fabricated with steel or plywood. Our research confirmed that insitu concrete structure formed within specific types of EPS and ICF in-place permanent moulding systems is a particularly effective and efficient method of delivering concrete structure. The combination of permanent EPS formwork and concrete also has the advantage of collectively providing enhanced thermal performance and insulation characteristics and can directly satisfy all other modern performance criteria, environmental objectives and regulatory legislation, with the ability to entirely eliminate the need for timber in building structure if desirable. The research also found that these techniques also have the potential to establish a staging point for a new generation of alternative construction methodology that can be considered early in the technical development cycle, and offer abundant opportunities to completely revolutionise many aspects of low and high volume domestic-scale building construction and development.
Read further to learn more about MAXMASS Construction Technologies and this particularly unique evolution of EPS/ICF formed concrete construction.