A few years ago I was part of a board about intentional community. And several of the board members had a side project about designing a large building that could could house several IC's: each a little different from the others.
One of the ideas I threw into the pot was that each floor of the building would be exactly the same height. And throughout the building there would be "utility posts" offering power, water, sewage, etc. Walls could be connected to the posts and carry power, offering a way to make some rooms bigger and some rooms smaller on an as-needed basis. Further, some rooms could have bathrooms and some could have kitchenettes (connected directly to utility posts).
As the community evolved, a person could remain with the community, but have a larger space as two people share a space. Larger still when there are children. And smaller when the nest is empty. Those that can afford a lot of square feet could have it. Those living frugally could have a small space.
Maybe once every few years, there could be a big re-shaping for half of the community. Maybe some folks will have their space move a little to the left, and others will get a new space, and others will have their space grow or shrink a bit.
Even without community, I think that something like this could be really effective for any home. The outside is fixed, but the inside is easily changed willy-nilly as family needs change.
It just so happens that I am in the middle of a home design for myself, my wife, and our six children. We have kicked around several designs and seem to be running into the same issues where the kids at this age want something different than the kids will want in ten years. Needs within even a small family will evolve and change. And when 6 kids are out on their own we really don't want to maintain the space of at least 3 , and up to 6 small bedrooms...
So I started thinking outside the box and came up with an idea. The kids' rooms were to be in a completely separate wing away from the center of the house anyway, and since we're looking at building with a PSP/WOFATI type design anyway, that leaves Posts in the center of the structure. I have devised a system with eye-bolts in the posts and sort of like gate hinges to hang the walls and then screwed on trim (for ease of installation and removal) to hide the gap. Not perfect, but better than average.
Then as time goes on, and the kids are all gone, and I want to take up wood shop, or create the mother of all guest rooms, we can do it in an afternoon instead of a month of renovations.
But then again, I think in terms of adaptability. I've often pondered the design of kitchen cabinets which can be shuffled around and reorganized and locked into place with a simple mechanism... but I'm so far out of the box that I can't even see it from here.
paul wheaton wrote: What are you thinking a wall panel would be made of?
I would think the idea would be to have everything be on a 10x10 grid. Most bedrooms are 10 feet by 10 or 15 or so.
Having a portable wall fragment be moderately heavy seems like not such a big deal. Two or three people could move it.
A wofati has a slanted roof - so the space between the floor and roof will change. How do you mend that?
Dimensional lumber for the most part... standard stick frame construction.. not sure what kind of sheeting to use yet. This idea hasn't solidified completely yet. I was thinking of using like a piano dolly kind of thing and a couple people to move them.
The sloping roof in that particular area will be fairly high, so I was planning on making that part of the structure under a loft area. Uniform height ceiling nullifies that issue.
Very low-density sprayed-in-place papercrete 2" thick with bamboo as rebar would cost about $1/foot for 8' high, and probably wouldn't weigh any more than 2x4 with sheetrock. Low sound and thermal conductivity. Extremely strong, durable, repairable. Could be stamped and painted = beautiful.
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