The B.R.I.C. project in construction phase © BAMB Report D14
BRIC (Build Reversible In Conception) is a construction which is being assembled, disassembled and adapted each year. It formed an office in 2018, a shop in 2019 and will eventually form an acoustic laboratory in 2020. The team analysed the capacity of each constructive element to be reused several times. The first results proved that both circularity and energy efficiency objectives can be successfully met.
The office had a floor area of 70 m² and the shop has a floor area of 130 m², which proves the expandability of the construction. Moreover, making use of its reversible connections and components, such as the removable foundation, the building can be implemented in different places. This makes that the construction can be upscaled and implemented in different places and contexts.
The project is co-created with EFP students. They participated in the design, the construction and the disassembly of the BRIC modules.
The façades' structure and construction
System: The facade is composed of interchangeable, self-supporting wooden insulated cassettes. This modular system allows different configurations. The construction is easily assembled and disassembled. The system does not use screws for its fixation. The joints are integrated into the edge geometry. In the façade cassettes, cellulose was insufflated. Assembling the cassettes required a precise installation to ensure the stability and an effective airtightness. The insulated timber wall construction was prefabricated in the EFP workshop.
The finishing of the facade is Rockpanel/ceddar wood lathing. Rockpanel is a compressed mineral wool mat of compressed natural basalt. It is mechanically fixed with screws on wooden battens.
The disassembly was difficult due to the dimensions and the deformations of the wood. Screws were recovered, and panels were labeled with a code bar. Wooden cedar battens and supports were organised by length. The windows, frames and studs were extracted from the facades, without trace or damage.
Some numbers from the disassembly process are shown in the graph. Note: Only 50% of the window frames could be reused but all the window frames could be recovered.
Percentages of components that could be reused after a first disassembly process of the B.R.I.C. project. © BAMB Report D14
Construction of the external wall and façade of the B.R.I.C. © BAMB Report D14
Designed for Change (or Circularity)?
This evaluation is done by using the 24 Design Principles for Design for Change. Only the principles at the Element and Building level are evaluated. The principles of the Neighbourhood level are not evaluated in this case.
The green-indicated principles are applied in the project. For the blue-indicated principles, it is not sure. The red-indicated principles are not applied. It is important to understand that it's not the goal to fulfill all 24 principles to obtain a circular building. It always depends on the context of the building, and how those principles are implemented. This evaluation is used as a reflection. All principles are discussed separately hereunder.
Element - Interfaces
1. Reversible joints in the building elements: Reversible connections have been used. In this case, most connections are reversible because the aim of the building is to be able to be disassembled and reassembled. Most connections were done by screwing or by interlocked connections.
2. Simple: The building's design was based on the ability of students and non-experts to easily assemble and disassemble the building. From this fact we can assume that simplicity of construction was taken into account.
3. Speed: It is not clear how long it took to assemble the BRIC building or which instructions were followed to speed up the construction process ("Constructed during the 2017-2018 academic year" [BAMB Report D14]). The disassembly went faster than the assembly.
Element - Components
4. Durable*: BRIC tested the extension of the lifespan of materials. The team analysed the capacity of each constructive element to be reused several times with almost no waste production. The results can be found in the graph and in the BAMB Report D14.
Structural columns: Pinus pinaster wood
Insulated wall construction (cassettes): MDF boards and Cellulose
Finishing of the façade: Rockpanel and cedarwood lathing
Wooden window frames
Interior finishing: ochre, reed mat and red clay
One of the main lessons learned from the BRIC project is that the quality of the materials play an important role. From a screw to a wooden cassette, increasing the quality increases the reuse potential.
5. Reused: No building components of other buildings or industries is reused in this project.
6. Compatible: The facade is composed of 117 interchangeable, self-supporting wooden insulated cassettes. This modular system allows different configurations of the building and the facades and integrates reflections for the next BRIC project from the beginning. But, the cassettes are only compatible according to each other. They are useless once the cassettes are separated.
Element - Composition
7. Pace-layered: The pace-layering is not consciously taken into account. On the one hand, there is a certain grade of pace-layering because the aim of the project was to build in a reversible way. On the other hand, because the aim was to disassemble it shortly after assembling it, there was no need to take into account the different lifespans of the different layers. For example, the insulation material was blown into the façade’s structure, whereas the insulation layer has a shorter lifespan than the wooden cassettes.
8. Independent: Due to the integrated joints (in the edge geometry) of the wall cassettes, it is not possible to remove one cassette. They can only be assembled and disassembled in a fixed sequence. Also, the removal of the cellulose insulation by suction requires to make new holes in the wooden boxes. The façade cladding boards can be unscrewed independently.
9. Prefabricated: None of the elements were prefabricated. Everything was assembled on site, except for the insulated timber cassettes, which were each realised in the EFP workshop.
Building - Interfaces
10. Reversible joints between elements: Reversible connections have been used. In this case, most connections are reversible because the aim of the building is to be able to be disassembled and reassembled at another location. For example, the wooden panels, the structure and the foundation are connected by reversible connectors, such as nuts, bolts and screws.
Building - Components
11. Demountable: Any maintenance and modification work should be possible at any point throughout the building’s lifespan. In this project, the designers distinguished between integrated building elements, such as the indoor walls, the façade panels, and the structure. However, it is not clear if, for example, a façade panel can be refurbished without dismantling the roof. It is also unknown how the techniques are installed according to the different building layers.
12. Reusable: Reversible connections have been used. The system of the cassettes does not even use screws for its fixation. They are connected by joints integrated into the edge geometry.
13. Expandable: The BRIC building is not expandable once built, but when it is disassembled, it is possible to rearrange the elements when redesigning and reassembling.
Building - Composition
14. Versatile: BRIC is assembled and disassembled on a yearly basis. Each transformation is accompanied by a change in function: from an office (2018) to a shop (2019) and eventually an acoustic laboratory (2020) for training EFP students. During its transformations, the project is testing the capacity of the construction to evolve in size and functionality. The ability of the project to be transformed and adapted to new functional needs makes BRIC a valuable scalable project.
The Design for Change principles are used to evaluate the project on circularity and Design for Change. © OVAM
Design principles: demountability and reuse of materials in each cycle
Those principles were found beneficial in reducing greenhouse gases and to minimise use of new natural resources. [BAMB Report D14].
BAMB Circular Building Assessment, referred as CBA, a methodology developed by BAMB partners, BRE and Sundahus.
Report D14 – 4 pilots built & feedback report – Testing BAMB results through prototyping and pilot projects
BRIC Pilot Blog
Website of BRIC