An Israeli entrepreneur develops a modular building system with a clever twist.
Although the term “LEGO-esque” is used quite extensively these days to refer to stack and connection-centered modular building systems, it is not every day that one sees real building blocks that bear a remarkable resemblance to the beloved construction toy. The Smart Brick, an innovative and unique building product developed by the Israeli startup Kite Bricks, resembles an average LEGO brick except for the interlocking studs (in this case square, not round).
Ron Zohar, the man behind the patent-pending building system, told Wired UK that despite the brick’s LEGO-y appearance, the Danish import of plastics had no effect on their design. Strength and warmth, not the ability to stack and connect, were the driving force behind their creation.
Smart brick makers want to shake up conventional building methods by offering a building block that is suitable for both modest homes and multi-story office towers. This one is cheaper, more efficient, and more versatile than the stick-built competition. As with other modular building styles, a dramatic decrease in construction waste is a notable benefit of smart bricks.
While concrete smart bricks are stacked together in a similar way to LEGO blocks, they are also bound together with a special adhesive and reinforced with steel. (Video screenshot: Kite Bricks / YouTube)
Their external appearance may be attention grabbing / nostalgic, but it’s in the Smart Brick where things get really interesting and differ from other modular building systems. Each brick consists of a steel-strong yet light concrete that was developed in Germany. It contains a side panel that can be unlocked with a special tool to reveal its interior. This is where insulation and infrastructure elements such as electrical lines, cables, pipes and piping, HVAC equipment and the like are located. In the event that an element, such as a faulty wire, requires routine maintenance or immediate attention, there is no need to demolish a wall, tear up the floor, or create a large and expensive mess: a smart brick building’s “brains” are easily accessible .
The made-to-order bricks are precision machined in a factory before being delivered as a kit to an installation site, where they are stacked together with a special adhesive, eliminating the need for cement and other traditional binders. The reinforcement takes place via steel bars that are slotted through the individual stones when stacked. Two construction site staples, scaffolding and cranes, are not required during the construction process.
In addition to a quick and low-waste installation process, the energy efficiency is one of the greatest advantages of the Smart Brick, as its thermal properties reflect and capture the heat during the summer months and thus enable more cozy living spaces in the interior – without sky-high heating costs – in winter.
Zohar’s company believes that a structure made from these durable building blocks will reduce construction costs by 50 percent compared to traditional construction methods. Coupled with a streamlined construction process and less reliance on other building materials, these savings are due in part to the fact that, as shown in the video above, hard-working block-stacking robots, rather than humans, will appear to be carrying the brunt of the work.
The manufacturers of the modular construction system Smart Bricks want to change the face of residential construction.