Interlocking wood "bricks" that can assemble into a nail-and-glue-free house


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/03/16/le-prefab.html


#2

When this was posted to Reddit many experts deconstructed the reasons why it was stupid, from the waste involved in milling the separate pieces to the difficulty in running electrical connections, HVAC, and plumbing. Even just using wood slats with a standard joist frame would be cheaper, stronger, and more environmentally beneficial.


#3

Maintenance/replacement is also pretty much impossible.

But I’m sure all these problems must have occurred to the designers so they must have solutions if they’ve gotten to this point.


#4

Still not the stupidest home building scheme I’ve encountered. That honor goes here:


#5

Possibly still useful to build a small shed or garage where such needs are minimal.


#6

If nails and glue were in short supply, I guess that I could understand doing it this way. But they aren’t. And unlike brick, wood tends to rot, and what happens when one section starts to rot faster than the rest? With everything interlocked like they have it, how do you replace it without disturbing the rest? Literally a house of cards.


#7

I’m pretty sure you don’t understand how designers work then. The design is all, execution is secondary. Especially architecture.


#8

Here are some relevant threads:


I think a lot of the criticism boils down to ‘That’s an inefficient way of building an apple. Here is how you build an orange’ written by american builders using non-sustainable materials building cheap square footage. Most of the arguments also apply to many traditionally built houses, like log houses, too.

Check out these bozos wasting their time, don’t they know how inefficient they are?


#9

There’s a UK outfit selling similar stuff for building garden walls, raised beds etc.
https://www.woodblocx.co.uk/


#10

In addition to all the other things said about being inefficient and all that. Pretty sure they coat the upright pieces in the bricks with glue and use nails for the longer uprights, as well as the roof structures. So maybe less nail and glue house?


#11

The company claims (english language article) that it is significantly cheaper to build this way than to build a traditional wood frame, per square meter (1000 euros vs 1600 for traditional). Considering that there’s no fastenings required, I can see how that would be so. Insulation wise, wood is really very good, so even before you fill the voids with cellulose, you’re going to have a much tighter building than with stud framing.

As to running services, I don’t see how it’s going to be any more difficult than running services though regular 2x4s - you drill holes and run your wires/pipes. It looks like vertically, you have clear runs all the way up the wall, so you’re basically just facing the same amount of drilling as you would with 12 inch on center studs. Maybe some of the bricks come pre-drilled so all you do is put the wall together and you have the path for your lines already in place? (see below)
Their DIY kit claims to include optional services, so it’s not like the company hasn’t figured this out and implemented a solution (google translate from the french):

ETA: @Aeroplane got it right, I think: these wooden bricks are all about building a completely airtight, extremely well insulated exterior wall for a passive house. You don’t run services through that wall any more than you run services through the walls of a straw bale house.


#12

I like the idea but have some misgivings. It seems more resource-intensive than other building methods just in terms of how many trees it would take to make a neighborhood / town / city, and harder to automate. That’s just my bias, though - I think 3d printing adobe or building with sandbags is pretty neat.


#13


#14

Traditional log houses are pretty inefficient to build in terms of total wood usage and construction time, though they can be pretty good, I suppose, for minimizing wood waste and total construction energy. But the wood brick house has none of those benefits, and most of the draw backs. You could make an all wood house using traditional framing methods faster, cheaper and more sustainability. The wood bricks sure look nice though.


#15

That’s a very good point. All building techniques have advantages and shortcomings. I don’t really see the advantage of building using this method other than it looks prettier than concrete blocks. (Then, don’t build with cinder blocks.) Unlike a log cabin, which was practical only when large amounts of unmilled lumber was readily plentiful, this method requires more labor intensive than other traditional methods.

There are good reasons why most of us don’t live in log cabins anymore and we don’t build our high-rises out of Lincoln logs. Just like there are good reason why most of us routinely don’t cook over open fire, and why most of us don’t routinely travel on horseback.


#16

It’s the octopus option that’s clinched it for me.


#17

Does the Octopus option include a giant fishtank or something?


#18

Octopus is Google’s ham-handed translation of the French idiom for wiring. The original french parenthetical reads (pieuvre électrique, plomberie, aménagement intérieur). So, in french, electrical wiring is literally called electrical octopus. And now I have learned something new today.


#19

See all the worry about rot and unable to repair/replace is largely unwarranted. If you properly treat and seal the wood it should last a long damn time. There are log cabins over 100 years old out there doing fine. IIRC many old building and temples in Japan are built out of wood with no nails, and they are still standing.

I don’t think it is practical for most people. I can’t conceive that most people would be able to afford the cost, as real wood is expensive. (as opposed to plywood and the like). I have no idea how heating and cooling efficient it is. And some claim it is sustainable, but I am not sure how that is. It looks to use a LOT more wood than a modern built home. Wood is a sustainable resource, but if you’re using 5x as much per house, you’re going to be straining that resource more.


#20

Saw this on Reddit weeks ago, but you had me at Lincoln Logs by Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper.