PROGRAM: Fabrication tower

CONTEXT: Fabrication housing study

STUDY: Frame/Volume/Delivery/Connection

Planes, frames, and volumes are the basic ingredients to all assembly logics. Today, with the proliferation of additive production methods, the possibility of volumetric prefabricated building components has the potential to radically alter the way that we conceive of construction and the permanence of building parts. Volumes can now be created efficiently through the direct translation of digital files into additive matter at increasingly larger scales. Entire building components can be drawn up independently, fabricated as solids, and combined as whole building systems. 

In order to explore the possibilities of such a system and logic, research of both Richard Rogers’ ‘Zip-Up House’ and Kisho Kurokawa’s ‘Nakagin Capsule Tower’ add up to a proposal that tests the viability of a componentized volumetric assembly structure.


The main problem with capsule structures is the inability for the user to change the spatial logic of the capsule due to its inherent all-in-one design meant to meet all human demands. This is impractical in terms of meeting both changes in technology and changes in how people use and perceive space. The capsule must now be thought of as a technology that can be made of separate upgradeable parts.


Once we consider the capsule as a family of independent volumes the question then becomes: How can we easily attach and detach different volumes as we please?

Using the system of neoprene zippers proposed for Richard Rogers’ ‘Zip-Up House’,the volumetric components will be zippered together with a waterproof and reversible bond. Housing components can be swapped out by simply reversing the process.


We cannot assume that a capsule building can always afford or even have the opportunity to have an external means of adding and removing volumes to and from the structural frame. Looking to the advances in parking technologies that are proliferating our densest cities we can see the possibilities that robotic movers may have on moving volumetric components. Internal strategies work best.

By allowing for each personal unit to be made of interchangeable volumetric components, each will be a composite of values and needs. Layouts are less flexible but allow for different volumes.

Volumetric components will be either manufactured on site via additive printing or delivered to the site via trucks. Upon

installation of new components, old components will be stored underground and put up for auction to others in the community. 

The robotic mover in the center of the frame, an upgraded lift commonly seen in automated parking towers, will first take the old component out and then swap it with the new volume. Two cores will be added along the outer perimeter, while another means of circulating between units will be along a spiraling path around the interior robotic lift.

The ease of swapping out old components and constantly upgrading and questioning your unit layout empowers the user and introduces a form of mass spatial agency. Accepting change becomes addictive. This activity will become a spectacle within the community and enjoyed by all.

All units are pushed to the exterior of the tower. Access to the units is always through the bottom of the volumes allowing for the robotic lift to access to them with obstacles. The structure is based on a system of interlocking spirals that make circulation and transformation of the components

simultaneously possible. 

Through the ease of online ordering, each unit will be able to buy and sell adjacent spaces and ‘design’ their own additions and components via simple browsable software. The database will evolve and shift with changes in style, use, technology, and customer desires. The basic presumptions regarding connection methods will remain standard while the volume and use will change. Each unit will become unique.