Mechanics & Locomotion

Aug 1, 2017


Like a trick of magic, one can unwrap the package and… WOW! There is the structure you need for your holiday, your music festival, your show room, your… whatever you need temporarily.

Just imagine: you push a button and unfold a liveable house anywhere you demand its delivery. This can sound like some sci-fi movie, but actually it's more like a meeting between physics, architecture and engineering.

Eight minutes is all it takes to unfold these buildings. The concept is so simple as a lever.

These self-deploying structures were designed by UK-based 'Ten Folds Engineering'. The machine offers a glimpse into the future of construction, as these buildings can be used as pop-up facilities for medical spaces, temporary event venues, mobile grocers or vendor huts.

The device simply folds up the solid parts of a building to make relocatable and place it wherever it is needed. Basically it's a counter-balanced folding assembly that's the DNA for a structure that can unfold from a compacted state (for transportation) to an expanded state.

The technique eliminates the need for labour and machinery, offering a mobile and ready-made structure, versatile enough to fulfil most immediate and temporary needs. The process is fully reversible, therefore, these structures can be moved, and moved again.

The company claims the lever system is adaptable with multiple purposes: unfold, unfurl, transform, raise, protect and cover.

The compacted structure can be installed anywhere it can be delivered, allowing the repurposing of land, urban or remote, that otherwise would sit idle.

David Martyn, founder and CEO of Ten Fold Engineering, is neither a technologist or an engineer. He's an architect in the most classic sense having created high-end luxury residences for the past 25 years.

"Think Victorian engineering. Ten Fold structures don't have computers or networking, they are simply using physics", says Martyn. "Everyone is always thinking they have to be more automated, but in fact this is more automatic by being less automated."

Muji's pre fab vertical houses for the Japanese market prove the progress for change in the design of living spaces is taking shape. And, if you take a look at the Japanese housing market with their avant guarde architecture and disposable housing market where no one re-sells a house, rather they just demolish and build new, Ten Fold's idea doesn't sound so crazy.

Ten Fold has seen interest from both US and UK companies including mining companies who need to set up remote housing, film companies that shoot in remote locations and broadcasters who see the structures as a cure for the rapid and remote set up of mobile TV networks.

The first partnership for Ten Fold is with G3Festivals, a Dutch company that specializes in festival housing and accommodations. The joint venture is planning to deliver the first single unfolding fitted, ready-to-use 100 square meter space as well as a 40 bedroom unfolding hotel for the US market. Each unit unfolds into a four bedroom and four bathroom unit - all beds and furniture in one box.

Lights and the Internet for the hotel units will be plugged into mains, but if not, Martyn says they could be powered by generators or solar panels which can also be unpacked structures using the Ten Fold technology.

"We wanted to do something new, but at the same time, we wanted to challenge people to think differently about structures," added Martyn. "We live in houses that are stuck in the ground. We aren't a nomadic culture anymore, so this is a new concept based on a modern interpretation of nomadism as it relates to the global economy."

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