MACU – The Mobile Automated Construction Unit – is the first known showcase for state of the art technology and production methods for flexible, individual and rapidly-implemented building constructions in Africa. It is a forward-looking, technological alternative to existing know-how in the building industry and as such intends to stimulate thinking in new directions. The MACU prototype is a multi-purpose and flexible functional building unit which is produced out of high-end prefabricated elements. These sheets are customizable using CNC machines.
The principle is suitable for individual functional units such as schools, kindergartens, offices, temporary houses, remote shelters as well as items in urban space such information kiosks, bus stops, security post units, or for shaded canopies for public recreation. Assembly and disassembly is very straightforward. The design is based on a parametrized computer model that provides an instruction set for a computer-controlled milling machine which produces the individual building parts. The only material used is local pre-processed eucalyptus board with a thickness of 18mm. Instead of plywood, other CNC processable material could also be used. The individual parts are assembled in relation to each other and fixed with connectors made of CNC-processed material (wedges, clamps, brackets, extenders).
The MACU demonstrates and proves the potential and impact of modern digital parameterized models, and the potential of modern planning methods, pre-processed materials and state of the art customised fabrication technology. All steps and production were undertaken in Africa (Ethiopia) from local material.
The technology used is not proposed as a direct alternative to existing methods in the housing program for developing countries, and does not intend to replace nor question it, but simply to augment the possibilities. Its flexibility makes it possible to provide various functions to users. The usable space between the spacing of the column-grid ranges from 1.2 m to 3.8 m, with a maximum uninterrupted bay size of 3.8 × 3.8 m = 14.5 m² usable space. The column grid can be extended in both directions.
The structural system consists of prefabricated lightweight concrete pad footings into which columns are inserted that in turn are fixed to a ridge grid-waffle slab system. The enclosure as well as the partitioning walls are non-loadbearing and can be placed in the grid of the slab (800 × 800 mm). Various types of façades have been developed and solid walls (single or double sheets) or walls with openings for ventilation or even windows and doors can be placed individually. The roof is designed as a removable membrane sheet which functions as a rain cover on the roof. Made of 1 mm thick PE, it is fixed over the projecting flat roof construction and secured from below.
Credits: Heng Sen Lumber Manufacture PLC Addis Ababa Ethiopia, CNC workshop by Thomas Haile Addis Ababa Ethiopia, AEE Dawit Kebede Addis Ababa Ethiopia
Architects and implementation: Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, institute of experimental architecture (ifex) in collaboration with EiABC, Addis Ababa University
Project head: Prof.Dr.Ing. Dirk Donath
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Year of construction: 2014
Construction time: 1 day
Area: 36.00 m²
Budget: 10,000 USD
Software used: Rhino, Grasshopper, self-developed C#.net Add-on, Control Artcam
Number of individual parts: 834 parts without wedges & connectors
Material: Eucalyptus plywood / 18 mm / 1.20m x 2.40 m,
CNC Parameter: 3-axis milling machinery made in China, 10mm drilling bit, Operation speed @ 7000 rpm for two blades, total cutting length 3,100 m, total cutting time 28.0 h
Projekfilme auf Vimeo: