Blending the New with the Old

When the term disruptive innovation is used, what comes to mind is an innovation or a concept that builds a new market, in due course transforming the existing market and displacing the established products and companies. In most instances, the innovation’s ability to blend with the existing products and systems is completely overlooked, yet blending the new with the old is a huge advantage.

Perceived usefulness, ease of use, compatibility and result demonstrability have been revealed as the four key features that determine adoption and use of new technology innovations according to research on the diffusion of innovation and the acceptance of new technology.

Compatibility is a key feature that most of the players in the construction industry look for in any new technology is; its ability to be combined with the conventional building systems and existing technology; for instance: brick and mortar.  Blending the reinforced EPS panels is very common, especially for high-rise buildings, apartment blocks and malls constructed with steel, brick and mortar. Reinforced single panels of width ranging from 100mm down to 50mm, are highly sought after for use as partitioning walls for bedrooms, offices and stalls because they save a lot of space in terms of the wall area while still providing excellent strength.

The TechBuilding System is designed to work seamlessly with conventional support structures and this is incorporated in its design.

slab panel
TechBuilding Slab Panel

The TechBuilding slab panel demonstrates this perfectly, it is specially designed to construct floors and roofs in storeyed buildings. It has ribs (hollow shafts running along the entire length) that are filled with concrete. In cases where floor spans are greater than 4.5 metres; additional reinforcement and support structures like conventional steel beams and bar joists are added in these hollow shafts.

A single panel weighs 15kgs and can very easily be moved by hand, making handling onsite much simpler because a wall area of 3.6m2 can be installed by a single site worker, without the need for cranes. As a consequence, there are no cranes required and minimal scaffolding.

Onsite crew erecting panel

A team of just eight onsite workers can complete the raw building for a bungalow in only 18 days compared to the average of 4 months with brick and mortar. The ease of use of the TechBuilding panels translates into savings in terms of a shorter time to market, especially for large construction projects.

In the majority of cases, real estate developers and government institutions work with very tight deadlines on projects usually for 2,000 housing units or more; with a constraint of 1,000 housing units. In such scenarios, the conventional brick and mortar is not the appropriate solution because of the limit to the number of housing units that can be built in one year; for a typical 3-bedroom bungalow, a maximum of 1,000 housing units can be built using brick and mortar in one year for a single project. This is because the transportation, laying and setting of the bricks/blocks takes significantly longer. Whereas for reinforced polystyrene panels, up to 5,000 housing units can be constructed in one year.

The heightened interest from largest real estate developers and construction companies in Uganda prompted the TechBuilding Group to construct a model house to demonstrate the usefulness and properties of this innovation, in particular the durability and safety.

In terms of safety, the polystyrene core is a fire retardant; which means that it is self-extinguishing. Therefore, structures built with reinforced panels have a significantly lower risk of destruction by fire; the spread of fire is actually slowed down significantly as it is not transmitted unlike conventional building materials. Another safety feature, is the resistance to earthquakes; which is relevant, given the earthquake experienced in Uganda last Sunday. The connected steel wire mesh wraps around the building, creating a monolithic structure, a proven survivor of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes due to its greater resistance to tremors, shakes and shocks.

When it comes to durability: polystyrene does not degrade over time, it is also: water resistant, impervious to damp and mould, as well as termite proof ….and blast proof! So it lives forever!

Model house with shotcrete applied to the outer walls



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