Prefabricated industrialized systems currently present an area of strong architectural and constructive development. As a complement, the increasing option for composite solutions diversifies the range of solutions, leading to results and performances that any material alone, with its limitations, could not achieve. The constructive system under analysis in this presentation was developed to fitting in contemporary architectural and tectonic concepts. The present technology establishes an innovative timber-glass composite constructive system in which the combination of these materials simultaneously incorporates an energetic, functional and aesthetic character. The system materializes in a multi-structural modular panel which can be applied horizontally, as a slab, and vertically, as a resistant wall. It integrates passive solar systems and bioclimatic functions, which result in energetic efficiency, and constitutes a sheer innovation in the field of sustainable prefabricated structural elements. This system becomes an architectural and structural skin, frontier between inner and outer spaces, reinforcing its importance in the energetic performance of the construction and the comfort of the inhabitable space, predominantly in terms of thermal transfers, air circulation and natural lighting levels – features that decisively contribute to the optimization of energetic efficiency and effectiveness of its management.
Technology and motivation
The Et3 - Energetic modular technology - system was developed with the purpose of fitting in contemporary architectural and tectonic logics, especially in the specific scope of the materials which compose it: glass and timber. This product, based on the logic of self-sustained panels, places part of its characteristics in the structural polyvalence of the panel – which can be applied either as slab or wall – and its dimensional metrics, adjustable to several foreseen project situations.
The business principles present in this research work bring out the need of a strategic marketing vision, without which it is not possible to achieve the concept of product. In this case, obtaining an innovative and distinct product is a key factor. This necessarily implies the integration of productivity principles, mainly the appropriation of a semi-industrialized process. Prefabrication, control of costs and transportability are aspects that decisively influence a product which is intended to be modular and largely feasible, and fundamentally capable of offering quality.
Product developments and applications
tglassbond – timber-glass structural bonding system
The Et3 lies on a scientific base of three years of undisclosed applied research, whose core was the timberglass structural bonding. This tglassbond, timber-glass structural bonding system, comprises an extraordinary potential of constructive and energetic development, yet internationally unexplored. Summing up, it is possible to state that, with this bonding technology, the mechanical capacity of the composite system is substantially higher than the sum of the individual behaviours of the composing materials, which confirms its structural capacity. With the purpose of achieving the ideal balance between strength and stiffness for each specific situation, an extensive set of experimental tests, which included several trades and adhesive types, was performed.
tsquare system – structural timber-glass composite linear system
The structural utilization of timber-glass composite solutions is a daring constructive system, which although still in a very early stage, already presents an important potential of applicability in architecture. Natural lighting is a crucial factor in architectural conception, and one of the advantages of linear timber-glass composite elements – beams and columns – lies precisely on the exploration of the capacities of lighting through structural elements. This means it will allow benefiting from natural lighting in a way not much explored so far, creating light paths, improving spatial perceptions and achieving the most transcendent features of this material: magic and illusion. Part of this presentation centres on the results that characterize the solution regarding safety and behavioural stability. This is essential to the practical, safe and generalised implementation of an innovative and promising technological system.
ttt transportable tourist tower, which integrates the Et3 technology, is an architectonic response to the new challenges of the global market, in which mobility and multi-functionality are associated with the prevailing socio-economic context and opportunities in the construction sector. This tower has 3 stories with a total height of 9m and provides 30 m2 of useful area with a ground area of only 10 m2. It is an autonomous and self-sufficient space, geared towards both a new concept of nature tourism - beaches, forests, vineyards or the countryside – and urban flexibility. Designed to be transportable and with a reduced construction impact, it is at home in natural environments where there are no pre-existing infrastructures. This self-sufficient micro-home, using timber as main material and spreading it as a final product, is a new concept of sustainable construction – a habitable design piece which merges with nature. These are innovative products regarding the whole range of living and building, using processes and techniques to ensure the use of energy under sustainable conditions and contributing to rationalisation.
Wide international recognition has been received in terms of these products industrialization ability, market potential and degree of inventiveness. This evolution culminated with the public presentation of the technologies/products covered by this application at the EXPO 2010 Shanghai China – Better City, Better Life – at the highly restricted and selected Urban Best Practices Area, – where it was widely considered the 2nd Portuguese pavilion –, representing Portugal, after expressed invitation of the Portuguese Ministry for Economy, Innovation and Development.
School of Architecture, Technological University of Lisbon, and
PhD researcher, Civil Engineering Department of University of Minho
Prof. Andre Barbosa