The Utilihab Project would essentially apply the same objectives of the Utilimobile Project to the application of housing, seeking to develop an evolving quick-connect kit-of-parts platform for home building and the furnishings and infrastructure systems within them. This particular project has important ramifications for the rest of TMP as many of these building components, if not the whole Utilihab platform, could be directly incorporated into the construction of Aquarius settlements, space habitats, and even subterranean lunar and planetary settlements.
Utilihab takes its lead from the current TomaTech/Tomahouses product line which, though proprietary in much of its components, is still based at its core on the use of non-proprietary aluminum T-slot framing components which are quite ubiquitous worldwide and offer an unlimited potential for Open Source component design. Based on simple post-and-beam frame architecture, Utilihab could also incorporate a variety of space frame and modular box frame components in order to overcome the limitations on span for simple T-slot profile members. But most of its focus would be on the development of a large variety of active and passive components integrating to the simpler framing system, treating it as a passive architectural backplane to a housing system both figuratively and functionally computer-like.
Just as the Utilimobile concept offers a radical transformation of the industrial paradigms of automobile manufacture, so too does the Utilihab concept offer a radical transformation of the concepts of housing and property value. This is because the ability to freely demount and reuse modular components changes the relationship between architecture and real estate and creates the potential for the portability of household equity and creates the potential for component after-markets (used parts refurbishing and resale) that can turn the components of housing into their own kind of currency. Utilihab also changes the way we use space and recycle the equity of property.
Contemporary convention compels the homeowner to seek impractically large homes to allow for future needs –even though the debt incurred may be out of proportion to one’s needs at any time and is always extremely burdensome– and then to later seek to make that debt fungible in order to allow them to move elsewhere. But consider the prospect of a world where house and land are completely independent with the home freely demountable, mobile, and fungible on the component level. Imagine children sent out of the family home when they reach adulthood with the set of parts for their ‘share’ of the home structure to be used for their own smaller independent home. When an individual marries or simply partners with others, they can collectivize their individual components on a larger home or even a community structure, then later take those parts with them if they part ways. Or a person could ‘sell’ their home to a components aftermarket for ‘credit’ in equivalent components obtained in another location, thus saving them the trouble of transporting them. When people are forced to relocate for various reasons –the environmental changes now beginning to compel mass population shifts today in particular– they need not fear the loss of equity in their homes as a consequence of collapsed land values. Adapting housing to suit new domestic technologies would not be the costly problem it is today as it can be isolated to the replacement of a specific set of home subcomponents. If a radically new home power technology emerges in the future, there would be little difficulty in integrating it, whereas today even minor changes in infrastructure technology of a home can lead to radical and costly renovation. And, of course, with all the components of a home light and designed for quick-connection the potential of owner sweat-equity becomes fully realized. Considering that labor is now 80% of the cost of building a home in the US today, this could result in a radical reduction in the cost of housing. These and many other possibilities can be realized when we can realize for housing the same sort of industrial ecology that has evolved with the computer.
Drawings and Notes
Three renders of Utilihab test-bed pavilion structures. Left image shows the naked framing structure. Center image shows the structure with applied panel system, sliding window-wall door panels, and two living wall planter panels. Right image is a test-bed frame, mocking up one corner of a structural module. It is used for testing different panels and attachments. Such small test structures would initially be built to experiment with Utilihab components and materials and would also be used as transportable exhibits.
Utilihab System Specification
An Alpha Components Specification document for Utilihab has been completed and is hosted here;
- Utilimobile Project
- Open Energy Project
- Open Computer Project
- Open Space Project
- Open Fabber Project
- FIY - Fab-It-Yourself Series
- Enclosure Profiles