postUsonian Project
There are four major aspects of the postUsonian technology: first, the technology that is of the structure - how it is built; second, the technology of the energy flows through the habitat - heat, electricity, food; third, the technology in the house - that augments life processes; fourth, the process technology by which the Project is conducted - and the means by which any house project is managed, as well as, the ENTERPRISE as a whole.
Some of this technology will be proprietary - some not. The proprietary technology will be “open source” within a “closed” (I prefer the term focused) network. Each of the three Networks of the ValueWeb (Investor, Producer, Customer), will has access to, and will participate in the development of, the technology by three degrees of separation (the three “clamshells” of each Network) [link].
While these three aspects of technology are distinct and they act together as a system. The building process alters the design and visa versa; the augmentation [link] technology depends on each houses program; all these factors impact the structure. This is one reason why and one way how that every home built will be different than any other.
Structural Technology
SFIA Architects - Master Builders [link] will provide the design and engineering for the core concepts of the postUsonian. AI [link] will provide structural components and interior components and trim. In time, other designers, engineers, architects inventors, manufactures and builders will contribute designs and components. Their contribution will become part of the ValueWeb IP/IC [link] and they will derive just compensation for their efforts protected by the ValueWeb protocols [link] (see below). Each addition, be it design or component, will add to the postUsonian grammar and kit-of-parts.
As System’s Integrator, MG Taylor will create standards (aesthetic and technical), modules, dimensions and armature elements [link] (including Collars) so that these various components can “plug and play” in a wide variety of unique assemblages (see NASA Story [link]). The components will be designed/manufactured on various scales (levels of recursion [link]); in time, the variety (both conceptual and material [link]) now only possible with totally custom, costly architecture will be available at the lower costs associated with high volume construction. This was achieved 35 years ago with swimming pools (swimming pool story [link]). The ability to do this is not a theory, it is possible to do this. It does, however, take an concerted systematic effort over a period of a few years.
There are some processes best done in the field, some best done in the shop. There are traditional materials that are still better than anything modern and some modern industrial materials that are unmatched for their function, beauty and utility.
There are materials we can associate with EARTH: compacted earth, concrete, brick, slate, tile, etc.; they are unmatched in beauty, persistence, warmth, symbol and flexibility. These will be used for foundations, terraces, ground floors, fixed-mass walls and certain vertical elements around utility cores (fireplaces, kitchens, storage, etc.). These materials, and the forms they create, anchor the structure to the EARTH and bond the building and its inhabitants to physical, tactile, visual reality. These materials were used extensively in the traditional Usonians. If you think of it, all these materials at just different forms of earth; the postUsonians will rise up out of earth-sculpture forms (creating patios, micro-climes and food growing areas [link]) with these various compacted/dense forms of earth (compacted earth, concrete, brick, slate, tile) from which the structure, enclosing the living spaces, will spring.
Wood is still the great building material. It is close to the ideal material. Besides being a fantastic and flexible structural material it is a premium finish material. No human-made material, yet, comes close to wood when you factor strength, warmth, finish, its renewable nature and economy. The closest are composite materials which is basically what wood is and this similarity indicates the best way to use it given modern means. The Usonians employed wood extensively as will the postUsonians. There are some negatives with the traditional methods of using wood: rot, weathering, poor attachment techniques, limitations of shapes. With modern glues, bonding materials and finishes it is possible to employ methods now common to the boat building industry to create structures of immense strength, freedom of form and almost unlimited durability. A “cold molded” boat hull will displace more water than steel at less weight and create a much more livable environment with lower maintenance costs than a vessel made of steel. Wood, in the post Usonian, will be an integrated structural material and inside/outside finish. It will form modular units that will enclose spaces of unlimited form and will be capable of great cantilevers freeing this part of the structure from the bonds of Earth. These wood elements will anchor to the masonry, compacted earth, concrete cores, and fly into space creating both interior and exterior delight.
Glass and plastics have made enormous gains in the last 15 years. These materials can now be structural and formed into any shape and “programmed” with a near infinite variety of characteristics in graded transitions: hardness, transparency, translucency, opaqueness, color, texture, flexibility and strength. Components made of of these materials can be combined by a broad variety of means from mechanical fasteners to glues, caulking compounds and by actual bonding. “Glazing” made of these new materials can perform traditional roles: window and window walls, as well as new roles: structural elements, passive and active solar systems, climate creating screens, waterproofing and roofing materials.
What will distinguish the postUsonian the most will be its basic method of construction which will employ masonry, wood and glass materials in an entirely new way. Mr. Wright talked about Organic Architecture being made of an integrated, interlinked continuous structure. He made great strides towards this ideal with the means that he had. Architectural structures, today, remain largely made of pieces mechanically fastened together into a “structure” that has little synergy. Fuller rightly criticized traditional architecture for this lack of structural poetry. To achieve his ends, Fuller designed largely in metals that required precision manufacturing and high volume. When we worked on the Hypercar, one of Emery Lovens’ points was that it is the automobile industry’s adherence to metals that drives its high tooling costs, thus, volume requirements. Composite structures can be economically achieved in low volume. For a car this most likely means high tech composites. For a building it does not. Wood will do very well and this approach can be accomplished by prefabrication or site fabrication for the light weight, flexible “tension” elements of the structure. The “earth” materials will serve for compression elements where weight is not an issue and where the craft of doing the work creates, by its own process, an esthetic experience and enduring value in the final result. The glazing element, in this approach, can be much more extensive and achieve a much higher degree of structural integrity than the “hole in the wall” approach to windows - and even so-called “window walls” - as architects presently conceive them.
By employing computers and CAD technologies, templates of great accuracy can be generated for both production shop and one-off field fabrication projects by owner-builders. The geometric challenges that drive added costs for buildings of unusual shapes can be be defeated. The box, which is not a very good structure, inherently, can be thrown away for good. Wright, with the Usonians was held by materials, methods and field knowledge to basically rectilinear shapes (if not in plan, in the vertical). He achieved incredibly wonderful spaces by the way that he manipulated these forms. There is still untapped potential in the rectangle and there is no reason to abandon it altogether. There is also no reason to be a slave to it just because of primitive in-place building methods, the way that materials are presently cut and shipped “stick method” and the dullness of architectural components which are mostly manufactured versions, out of cold, cheap materials, of centuries old forms. With the means at hand, we can go well beyond these limits and explore a much richer geometric space. These shapes can respond to conditions of utility, view, light and exposure at a much greater level of intimacy than traditional forms allow, as well as, accomplish a significantly higher level of structural efficiency for the materials used. All of this adds up to the opportunity to create structures of greater durability and utility, far more fitness between function and space, and with a much broader potential for expression.
Energy Technology
Energy is essentially the flow and transition of the potential difference between primary materials. In this viewpoint, this includes what we typically call energy as well as the water and food cycles. Physically, humans are basically heat engines. The structure of the building mediates between the ranges existing in nature and those comfortable and useful to humans. The flow of air, water and nutrients through a human is essentially no different than through a building, a society or the larger system we call the planet.
Of course we do not now typically engineer our buildings as if these were all variants of the same process. We break everything down into disciplines as if there was little or no relationship between any of these phenomena. This makes it possible for experts of different stripes to reduce their engineering process to formula, earn an easy living and therby design incredibly inefficient, expensive, wasteful buildings all in the name of efficiency and economy. Have you ever performed a full system life cycle cost analysis of what your toilet costs you monthly; or, the vegetables you eat; or the lights you use, the way you heat and cool your house, the transportation costs that it inherently requires? If you have, you know that the cost of building your house is trivial (although the cost of financing it is not!) compared to the cost of living in it. You also understand the the design of its not-integrated “systems” imposes “hidden” and unmeasured costs and determines much of your life-style. By design your habitat is unaffordable. This is the measure of the waste of energy that is involved including your own.
For their day, given the knowledge, materials and technologies available, the Usonians were wonders of energy management. Many were decent “passive solar houses” even by modern standards. Mr. Wright did not set out to do this as an isolated goal. The Usonians were a natural result of an organic [link] approach to design and the consequence of their strict economy. They make a rare example, to be found anywhere, where art, economy and ecology are so integrated. Part of this equation, it should be remembered, is that the inhabitant of the Usonian is not over indulged by an inflated energy-economy that makes little sense [link]. It is amazing (to put it kindly) that houses built today and considered progressive are not significantly advanced compared the Usonian which is going on 65 years of age. To stay true to this tradition means to incorporate and integrate all that is known and available today and make as as substantial a leap into the future as Wright accomplished. Not an insignificant challenge.
Such an advance does not require a breakthrough in any specific technology - although over time this will surely happen. It will be the consequence of integration.
Augmentation Technology
A postUsonian will have to be capable of being as augmented as any work environment in the world, with a difference, however. This difference is made up of a combination of transparency and environmental amenity.
By transparency, I mean that the technology is completely invisible, seamless and non intrusive.
By environmental amenity I am referring to the greater range of this aspect that is typically available in the office environment.
Enterprise and Project Management Technology
As stated elsewhere, this will be a distributed enterprise. It will build up, over time, locations where a local critical mass and, thus, capibility will exist. Most areas will have to be supplied from afar. Each postUsonian house will be different yet all will share architectural grammar and and certain components. Some will be highly custom, others an adaptation of standard plans. Some will be owner built, some contractor build, some largely prefabricated, some a combination of all three. Financing and other services will be provided no matter the location.
To facilitate and develop such an extended enterprise will require the full utilization of the World Wide Web and the many tools that make it up: e-mail, web-sites, BLOGs [link], WIKIs [link], order fulfillment software, multimedia, computer tutorials, and so on. At present, these tools stand semi-isolated from one another. MG Taylor, as ValueWeb Systems Integrator, will provide a method that melds these tools into an integrated system. In addition, the MG Taylor organizational and design PROCESSES will be employed: DesignShop [link] events, 7 Domains Workshops [link], PatchWorks exercises [link], ValueWeb architecture and protocols [link].
The specific BUILD process (the synthesis of the “swimming pool method” and the NASA process [link]) will be transferred to all ValueWeb Inner Clamshell [link] members. This technology will provide a tremendous “competitive advantage” for the ValueWeb.
There are specific methods in the MG Taylor Patent and Patent Pending related to the naming, locating, transporting, tracking and fitting of pieces and components [link] that will be employed.
In total, a complete system and method from idea to actualization to the creation of Intellectual capital [link] will be systematically employed to radically reduce cost and time in the creation of these habitats and their life-cycle management as a real asset [link].
This technology, applied to the realm of architecture, is literally the sum of 46 years of R&D on my part with the goal in mind - from the beginning [link] - to be able to build this kind of habitat in an affordable way. Afforadable not only to the individual, to the society and to the planet; in other words, sustainable [link].
Great architecture has always been accessible to the very rich (if they had the taste and ability to procure it) [rbtfBook]; the Usonians were remarkable - unprecedented - in the amount of architecture they provided for the dollar. Today, 50 years later, we have technologies almost unimaginable to Wright and his contemporaries. It would be a travesty - would it not - if we cannot employ these to significantly advance the state-of-the-art?
Return To INDEX
Return To postUsonian Index
Return To post Usonian Prototypes

Matt Taylor
May 22, 2004


SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted May 22, 2004

revised June 1, 2004
• • •

(note: this document is about 50% finished)

Matt Taylor 615 525 7053

Copyright© Matt Taylor 2004



Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase
Sound-alike matching
From: ,
To: ,
Show:   results   summaries
Sort by: