Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thesis Case Studies

By Kyle Fountain

The following precedents, although very different in context and purpose, all share similar modular tectonics, innovation of assembly, and expression of materiality.  The tallest cross laminated timber (CLT) building in the world was completed in October 2012, only eight months after beginning construction.  The Forte, located in Melbourne, Victoria was designed and built by the contracting company, Lend Lease (NA, 1).  Architectural innovation is often regarded via buildings as objects, appearing to defy the laws of gravity.  Still, innovation can be manifested out of many other opportunities than an unprecedented cantilever, or a race toward the mile high skyscraper.  For instance, the Forte accomplishes innovation through materiality, economics, and aesthetic.  Utilizing CLT as a building material is sustainable, strong, and allows opportunities within apartment units to eliminate drywall, a material used by all of the aforementioned innovative gravity defying buildings.
Figure 1 – A rendering of The Forte building in Melbourne, Victoria
The words prefabricated and modular often appear alongside each other, however, when defined deviate considerably.  Prefabricated structures are assembled within tightly constrained climate conditions, with a very precise tolerance.  This is very different than onsite construction, or in situ.  Still, in situ building can be beneficial in providing a humanistic character, similar to Brazilian favelas.  Modular construction is a repeated unit or units that comprise one structure.  Another mixed use high rise apartment, similar in proximity, typology, and speed is the One9 apartments in Melbourne, Victoria.  This building, however, was assembled in only five days via an offsite prefabrication process (Walsh, 1).
Figure 2 - On9 Apartments During Assembly
This 34 unit structure designed by Nanda Katsalidis is only nine stories tall, however, the specified off site manufactured units are currently being specified on building up to seventy stories tall (Walsh, 1). 
Lastly, a proposal for a hotel and office structure in Xi’an, China might invent a new typology.  The Shelf Hotel is a concept designed by 3Gatti Architecture Studio.  The Shelf Hotel is intended to be an open dialogue building, open to completion with public cultural input.  The intention is for a structure to be assembled, then units will be placed onto the structure, akin to placing an item on a shelf.  The end product would be an assemblage which has evolved over time.  Still, utilizing an opposing approach to architecture and time than the aforementioned Forte and One9, where fast track was the desired intent, the Shelf Hotel will be an ongoing project for years predicated on economic demand rather high or low.


1. Forte Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2014, from
2. Walsh, C. (2014, July 24). One9 Apartment Tower Constructed in Only Five Days. Retrieved October 25, 2014, from
3. NA. (2012, May 10). Shelf Hotel by 3Gatti Architecture Studio - Dezeen. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
 Figure 1:  Image Courtesy of -
Figure 2:  image courtesy of: inhabitat.comone9-nine-story-prefab-apartment-tower-was-installed-in-just-five-days
Figure 3:  Image courtesy of 3Gatti Architecture –

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