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Developer Toys with a Smarter Brick

Friday, August 29, 2014

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What looks and connects like a LEGO, but is reportedly strong enough to use for real-life bridge construction?

Smart Bricks, the UK developer says, "will change the way we build" all manner of structures, including bridges and other infrastructure.

"From now on structures will be highly insulated, much stronger, and a lot cheaper," developer Kite Bricks says on its web site.

Photos, video: Kite Bricks

Smart Bricks are designed to join easily, with open internal spaces for insulation and infrastructure elements.

Despite the obvious LEGO-like design, creator Ronnie Zohar insists his inspiration for the new materials came elsewhere.

Strength and Insulation

Zohar owns a window insulation company and says it dawned on him that insulation was not just a window issue.

"I realized that windows in the building are a small part of the heat problem; most of the problem is the concrete with the steel inside that gets hot or cold," he told Wired.

His emphasis was on developing a strong, durable, thermally tight material, he says. How the bricks connected was secondary.

Indeed, he said the biggest challenge was formulating a concrete material that is “light and strong like steel.”

Smart Bricks

Kite Bricks is seeking $3 million in funding to launch full-scale production of Smart Bricks.

Kite Bricks says the block "has been designed with the aid of top experts in building and design; the block and its associated structures are made for extreme strength, including during earthquakes and weather-related stresses."

The bricks are still in prototype stage, however. The company must raise around $3 million to launch full-scale production.

How They Work

According to the company’s website, the “bricks are designed to be easily joined together, with open internal spaces for insulation and infrastructure elements to be run through the bricks and allow for easy access to these elements.”

Internal infrastructure and spaces are accessible through patented removable faces on the blocks, the company says. Meanwhile, the composition of the high-strength bricks helps to save money, energy and resources, it adds.

Using the system "can lead to savings of 50% of the total expenses associated with building an eight-story building," the company says, through "clean and quiet" construction that requires no scaffolding or cranes, no mortar or leveling, and no additional finishing work on site.

Smart Bricks LEGO
Kite Bricks

Smart Bricks were designed for extreme strength and thermal energy control.

Smart Bricks also save on electricity and other energy costs by redirecting heat in the summer and trapping it in the winter, allowing for greater thermal energy control, the company says.

The bricks would be made to order so projects have the correct amount, minimizing waste, the developers say.

Assembly requires less labor than conventional building—and may, one day, even be completed by robots, they add.


Tagged categories: Brick; Building materials; Building science; Commercial Construction; Concrete; Construction; Design; Program/Project Management; Residential Construction

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