Form Free™ In-Depth
Our mission is to further the sustainability of life by providing a cutting edge technology that is easy to build, aesthetically pleasing and affordable.
THE FORM FREE™ BUILDING SYSTEM: In-Depth
Our History: The Path Toward Furthering Sustainability and Affordability
THE INITIAL BREAK-THROUGH: POURED EARTH
A Faster Method for Creating High Mass Walls
The road to the Form Free™ Building System began over 20 years ago when Architect and Builder, Michael Frerking, of Living Systems Sustainable Architecture, entered “POURED EARTH” into the lexicon of earthen technologies.
This was because Poured Earth – a more earth-friendly soil cement material – could now be poured like concrete eliminating the intense labor needed to form earthen blocks (Adobe), ram earth in 8” lifts (Rammed Earth) or put it into sacks prior to stacking (Earth Bag). Instead, Poured Earth made it possible to take full advantage of both the existing infrastructure of the concrete industry and its readily available forming systems.
However, even though the Poured Earth process had reduced time and labor, there still remained the excessive amount of heavy labor required to erect the forms prior to pouring as well as the additional labor required to remove, clean, stack and store the heavy forms once the walls were finished.
THE SECOND BREAK-THROUGH: THE FORM FREE™ WALL BUILDING PROCESS
Pouring Walls Without the Use of Forms
After experimenting for over two years with various materials and mix designs, Frerking solved the problem of how to make high mass Poured Earth walls less expensive: Pour them WITHOUT the use of heavy, labor-intensive traditional forming systems!
The FORM FREE™ WALL BUILDING process (patent-pending) makes use of an internal and highly reinforced steel mesh “forming” system composed of repeatable SHOP-FABRICATED “cells” that are:
- lightweight and easy to construct,
- quickly joined together in the shop before delivery to the site,
- include electrical conduit, insulation and hydronic tubing for passive heating and cooling,
- easily erected on site.
Once erected on-site, the walls are ready to be poured; once poured, they are easily troweled and finished.
How quickly these walls can be constructed?
A 8′ long wall (that is 8′ high and 14” wide) can be poured and finished in less than 1 hour!!!! The weight of this “internal space frame?” Just 100 pounds. Yet it can can easily “hold” 8 tons of Poured Earth (poured soil cement)!
THE THIRD BREAK-THROUGH: The FORM FREE™ BUILDING SYSTEM
A Fully Integrated Design/Build System
Frerking knew that there was still one major step needed to make his goal of affordability a reality. While the Form Free™ Wall Building process definitely reduces the cost of wall construction, walls account for just 15% of the overall cost of home construction. The question now became: How to make the WHOLE design/build process more affordable?
Reduce the complexity of the design/build puzzle to precision, 3-dimensional architectural building blocks with repeatable construction details that can be shop fabricated to within 1/8th of an inch and quickly field installed.
With only four architectural building blocks, we can create an almost infinite number of unique building designs; each one capable of responding to a clients’ differing dreams and aspirations as well as their requirements regarding size and function and site specific requirements such as:
- Orientation toward the south for maximum passive solar heating
- The ability to capture all site-specific views
- Concern for climatic effects of wind, heat and cold
- Topography and the natural environment
THE FOUR ARCHITECTURAL BUILDING BLOCKS
A myriad of design alternatives are possible using these four building blocks. The number of blocks and chosen assembly depends upon the requirements of the site and how it works with a client’s particular needs regarding space and aesthetic.
POSSIBLE BLOCK ASSEMBLIES for an 1800 sq. ft. home
Below are two possible block assemblies and the corresponding rendering (on the right) for an 1800 square foot home on a moderately sloping site. The client chose the lower assembly/rendering and the corresponding unique floor plan. Note on the rendering the area between the two major block assemblies that allows for a roof deck. Below the assembly and rendering chosen by the client is the unique floor plan.
POSSIBLE BLOCK ASSEMBLIES for an 1300 sq. ft. home
Below are two possible block assemblies and the corresponding rendering (on the right) for a 1300 square foot home on a very steep site. The lower block assembly, and the corresponding rendering to its right, was chosen by the client.
BLOCK ASSEMBLY for an 2300 sq. ft. home
This home is to be built on a moderately sloping site.
ADDITIONAL WAYS THAT WE CUT COSTS
A Team Approach
To make Design/Build even simpler, more efficient and less expensive, the Form Free™ Building System identifies all parties to the design/build process from the very start. The goal is the promotion of a collaborative “team” ethos that includes the owner, the architect, the builder, and sub-contractors. Together, they jointly determine the project’s objectives, goals and costs. Effective communication between all parties from the very start helps to eliminate the wasted energy that too often is spent on internal bickering or “turf wars” during construction. Instead, because everyone has a stake in the process, everyone also has an incentive to do what is best for the project.
The Form Free™ Building System also reduces construction time and costs by reducing the number of individual trades that are required to come and go on site. In traditional construction, these trades make frequent and often disconnected trips which adds to the overall cost of construction. The Form Free™ Building System reduces this inefficiency by replacing individual trades with multi-skilled trade professionals.
The Benefits? These multi-skilled trades people…
- visit the site less thereby reducing costs…
- are given the opportunity to become part of the design/build process from the start… which
- offers them an opportunity for professional growth within the Form Free Building System’s team… which
- attracts more talented and skilled professionals to the building industry.
OUR LATEST DEVELOPMENT
Expanding the SYSTEM APPROACH to the Interior Build-Out.
The Form Free™ Building System had enabled Living Systems Sustainable Architecture and the Form Free™ Building Team to reduce costs considerably through their system’s approach to the design/build of the exterior of their homes. In late 2016, however, costs were reduced even more when the build-out of the interior of their homes became a reality due to a new working relationship with a company that specializes in the delivery of interior build-outs.
This relationship now makes the cost savings systems approach apply to the whole building!
Spread the Word
In order to truly open the design/build market, the developments of the Form Free™ Building system need to be expanded to create a new culture of independent, multi-skilled and accountable building professionals.
Through our Training, Certification & Licensing Program, we will do just that!