The “barn raising” carried out in Amish communities in USA or the social housing initiatives promoted by Lewisham Council in London during the 80’s are good examples of how collective self-build can be a powerful social mechanism for strengthening communities.
Fab Lab Limerick from the School of Architecture at UL in collaboration with the Spanish design agency Colaborativa.eu is researching about the potential of digital fabrication and open source methodologies to generate low-cost construction systems. These systems are adequate for distributed manufacturing methods and can be used by the communities to self-build temporary collective spaces. By doing so, the construction system presented in this paper not only provides a pragmatic solution while a more permanent collective space is pursued, but it also become a useful instrument for social engagement and collective work.
The last iteration of this research is a geodesic dome construction system based on low cost materials and digital fabrication manufacturing. The design offers a great resistance to wind and snow loads and can span up to 14 meters using very small and light elements. The system consists in a continuous tension, discontinuous compression structure of cardboard tubes connected by CNC cut plywood hubs which were developed in a fast iterative design process using laser cutting.
We believe that full-scale structural systems using domestic digital fabrication for both rapid prototyping and manufacturing can open up innovation in building technology to communities all around the world.