A Tecnopod for Many Uses
The shape of the tecnopod -- essentially a cube rotated 45 degrees -- was designed to enhance the internal "quality of space." Often, spaces within a cubical box feel confined and tight. Only if the height and proportions of the box are magnified can this sensation be eased. But this is an inefficient way of maximizing the sense of space, and often the material cost of the size increase does not justify the spatial gain.
By contrast, the tecnopod takes advantage of its long diagonals to make it feel larger than it really is. Its floor area is 84 square feet (7.8 square meters), and its enclosed volume is about 847 cubic feet (24 cubic meters). But the extra space afforded by the diagonal enhances the perceived quality of space without sacrificing the efficiency of the shape. The form is a simple evolution of basic spatial economics.
It is easy to see potential applications of the tecnopod beyond purely humanitarian ones. Inherent in the modular nature of its components is a high degree of variation.
For example, in the built prototype, the main structural frame is of galvanized steel. This material is durable, recyclable, and suitable for precision manufacturing.
But this is only one of several possible materials. In the future, the steel could be replaced with cast aluminum or high-density plastics, which would see benefits through the reduction in weight.
Other elements and components can be varied as well. The coating could be changed and offered in colors. If views to every orientation are required, the solid side-panels could be replaced with glass. Solar panels could be placed on the roof-frame to power the ventilation systems.
And when larger areas are required, multiple units could be attached side by side with their floor plates extended across the modular connections. Variations on the components could be manipulated to optimize for taste and location.
The first prototype of the tecnopod was fabricated by Geahin Engineering Bhd. at their Batu Berendam facility in Malacca, Malaysia, with quality checked at every stage of production. It is essential for the tecnopod to achieve a high degree of accuracy in fabrication to ensure that the modular components will align properly during assembly. The tecnopod employs repetitive and mirror-image members, thus simplifying assembly.
Practical solutions for the building's manufacture and assembly were high priorities throughout the development of the prototype. The established optimum number of members making up the frame takes into consideration corrosion protection, transport, and ease of assembly.
During construction, computer numerically controlled (CNC) equipment was used to ensure the accuracy of piece cutting. Once completed, a trial assembly was carried out to confirm the feasibility of assembling the tecnopod with a four-person team. The steel structure has been assembled and dismantled in less than four hours several times.
The list of potential uses is almost limitless. These range from the tecnopod as a fashion statement, customized to the hilt, to the tecnopod as long-term disaster relief shelter. It could also be used for polling booths, security checkpoints, temporary information kiosks, and retail booths.
Studies are already underway with the built prototype to integrate building services within its skin -- plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems could be incorporated into the envelope of the pod. When this happens, it would become, literally the "Instant House."
The tecnopod has yet to identify its niche market, however ZLG Sdn.Bhd. welcomes inquiries and prospective investors.
Architect Sacha Noordin is a director with ZLG Sdn.Bhd. of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.