Modular building, part 1

I'm building a new building for Ranuska, a small hotel by the seaside. Of course, it has to be interesting and a little different, and I'm trying out some new techniques too.


My inspiration for this build comes from a few places. First is a residential building from Bobrujsk, Belarus, from the Soviet Modernism era of architecture:

Closely related to this is the Nakagin capsule tower, built in the 1970s in Tokyo:


(Read a fascinating account about a couple that lived here for a year)

And then on a similar module approach is the Hotel Turist, from Slovenia:

So with those in mind I came up with a bit of design utilising lots of repeating elements that I could assemble in different ways, similar to the old "modulars" and "universal building kits" that Arnold and other European modelling companies used to make.


After a few false starts, I ended up using my CNC machine to make the walls. The process starts with me designing 25mm / 1" square wall sections on the computer. I then array these and turn them into a negative cutting plan:

I convert this into a series of movements that the CNC machine will execute:

Then a block of (home made) machinable wax is loaded into the machine and faced off with a 6mm end mill to leave a smooth surface. Then I load in a 1mm end mill and execute my cutting plan:

Once cleaned up, I'm left with a mold:

I mix up some resin and pour it in, then place it in my pressure pot to make sure no bubbles remain. Half an hour later and I can pop out the pieces:

The need a bit of cleaning up, but only a very small amount, generally just a lick with an emery board and the flash trimmed off. Fairly quickly I had built up a good pile of profiles:

As you can see, I've drawn inspiration from each building, and the overall design aesthetic is starting to look fairly 1960s/70s with all the rounded corners and talk of pre-fabricated modular construction.

Part two will cover the actual construction of my building...

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Sunday, Sep 7 2014, 10:24 AM JD Lowe says...
Excellent project! I'm looking for to seeing how this turns out.