US 3785096 A
A modular building whose external shape comprises at least a major portion of a dodecahedron, the faces of the dodecahedron being rhombic and of like shape and area.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
111% States Neuhardt 1 Jan. 15, 1974 1 MODULAR BUILDING  Inventor: Charles P. Neuhardt, Philadelphia,
 Assignee: Interface Systems, Limited,
221 Filed: Mar. 15, 1971 211 Appl. No.: 124,382
3,411,250 11/1968 Maymont 52/81 3,632,109 1/1972 Dattner SZ/DIG. 1O
FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,522,876 3/1968 France 52/79 174,067 4/1922 Great Britain.. 52/237 357,994 4/1938 Italy 52/281 OTHER PUBLICATIONS Life Magazine Nov. 6, 1970 Pages 32 and 33. Mathematical Models by Cundy and Rollett 2nd Edition, 1961, pages 145, 158, 159, 195-197. Order in Space A Design Source Book, by Keith Critchlow, 1969, part of Appendix 2, 0a 464 C84.
Primary Examiner.lohn E. Murtagh Att0rney-Seide1, Gonda & Goldhammer [57 ABSTRACT A modular building whose external shape comprises at least a major portion of a dodecahedron, the faces of the dodecahedron being rhombic and of like shape and area.
6 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures PATENTEDJAN 15 m4 I 3.785096- SHEI l (,5 4
lNVE/VTO/P CHARLES P. NEUHA/PDT A TTORNEYS PATENTEDJAN 15 1974 SHEET 2 BF 4 lNVENTO/P CHARLES P. NEUHARDT A TTORNE'YS Pmmwm vs m4 7 3.785096 SHIT 3 LI 1 lNVE/VTOR CHARLES P. NEUHARDT' ATTORNEYS PNEYEDJM 15 M4 3.785.098
' arm u L? a l/VVENTOR CHARL 55 P. NEUHARDT ATTORNEYS MODULAR BUILDING This invention relates to a modular building, and more particularly to a modular building whose indivi ual modules take the form of rhombic dodecahedra, whole or truncated. K
Numerous techniques have been evolved for creating large buildings from small basic sub-assemblies, or modules." For example, I am aware of design US. Pat. No. 195,762 and its corresponding mechanical U.S. Pat. No. 3,230,673, the latter issued to R. P. Gersin on Jan. 25, 1966. Other respesentative patents teaching the concept of making a large building from a smaller module are the following: US. Pat. Nos. 2,241,830; 3,395,502; 3,503,170; 3,527,002; 3,529,386 and 3,535,835.
Architects and engineers concerned with the problem of creating usable interior space are well aware that a sphere represents the ultimate in efficiency from the standpoint of space enclosed versus surface area. For this reason, substantial thought has been devoted to various forms of building modules approximating the ideal spherical shape. As a concession to the practicalities of manufacture and assembly, the ideal spherical shape has been approximated by faceted polyhedra.
I have discovered that a particular polyhedron, a rhombic dodecadedron, provides singular and unexpected advantages if its full faces are standarized substantially congruent rhombic panels. The panels of the polyhedron can be assembled on-site, using relatively simple joint elements located at edges of the panels.
The edges of the panels also define edges of the polyhedron. Moreover, the configuration of a rhombic dodecahedron is such that non-truncated modules can be joined for expansion in several directions, namely (1) in a horizontal direction, by joining modules at vertically oriented faces; (2) in a vertical direction, by joining modules at horizontally oriented faces; and (3) in oblique directions, by joining additional modules to any of eight oblique planes. Modules can also be joined at lines of truncation, thus opening up the possibility of still other configurations.
A modular building built in accordance with the principles of my invention therefore enjoys great versatility as to overall external form. Large structures, made up of numerous modules can readily be made to conform to the contours of irregular or steeply graded sites. The size of the rhombic panels which form my module is such that suitably sized doorways, windows, and internal passages between modules may be provided in individual panels of special design.
The rhombic dodecahedron module also lends itself to rapidity and ease of assembly. For example, in one presently contemplated form of the invention, alternate edges of the respective rhombic panels are provided with male and female tongue and groove joint elements. It has been found that such panels can be assembled to form a complete closed rhombic dodecahedron, and that in all cases a tongue element on one edge will adjoin and mate with a groove element on an adjacent panel edge. This characteristic makes possible extreme standardization of parts, with all its attendant economies. In another form of inter-panel joint, the individual panels are joined to a compression tube, interposed between the panel edges.
The rhombic dodecahedron module exhibits great inherent strength. Non-truncated modules include eight three-plane vertices, wherein the respective edges forming the vertices converge at equal angles. These impart to the polyhedron great rigidity and desirable stress distribution characteristics. In one form of my invention, stress distribution characteristics of the module can be modified by pre-stressing, through the use of stress wires disposed along the edges between faces.
In view of the foregoing, it is an object of this invention to provide a novel modular building.
It is another object to provide a modular building whose basic structural module is a rhombic dodecahedron.
It is yet another object to provide a modular building capable of expansion in at least three directions by assembly of non-truncated modules, and also capable of expansion by addition of truncated modules.
It is still another object of this invention to provide a modular building using rhombic pre-fabricated panels, alternate edges of the panels being provided with joint elements of different matable types.
It is a still further object'of this invention to provide a modular building whose basic module takes the form of a polyhedron, and whose structure facilitates prestressing in a desired manner.
Other objects will appear hereinafter.
The foregoing and other objects are realized, in a presently preferred form of the invention, by a modular building whose external shape comprises at least a major portion of a dodecahedron, full faces of the dodecahedron being unitary rhombic panels, substantially identical in shape and area.
For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings forms which are presently preferred; it being understood, however, that this invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.
FIG. 1 is a side elevation of a basic building module in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the module shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is an end view of the module shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, with dotted lines illustrating one mode of expansion for a building in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 4 is a side elevation view illustrating expansion of a building in accordance with the invention in a vertical plane; in an oblique plane; and by truncation.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing a building constructed in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view, taken along the line 6-6 in'FIG. 4, illustrating one type of panel joint used in the present modular building.
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view showing an alternative form of panel joint for use in the present modular building.
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view showing a right-angle joint between panels.
FIG. 9 is a detail view showing a four-hedral vertex in a building using panel joints of the type illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8.
FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view, taken along the line 10-l0 inFIG. 9.
Referring now to the drawings in detail, wherein like numerals indicate like elements, there is seen in FIG. 1 a building module designated generally by the reference numeral 10. The module 10 is a polyhedron of 12 planar faces, the faces being rhombic and substantially identical in shape and area. Thus, the module may be referred to as a rhombic dodecahedron."
Referring to FIG. 1, and also to FIGS. 2 and 3, the module 10 in its illustrated form is oriented so that a pair of oppositely disposed faces 12 and 14 lie in spaced parallel vertical planes. Thus, the faces 12 and 14 define side wall portions of the module 10. A pair of faces 16 and 18 are disposed in spaced horizontal planes, and defines top and bottom portions of the module 10. An oblique face 20 intersects faces 12 and 16 at respective edges 22 and 24. Similarly, an oblique face 26 intersects faces 12 and 16 at respective edges 28 and 30.
Referring to FIG. 2, an oblique face 32 intersects the face 16 at an edge 34, the oblique face 20 at an edge 36, and the face 14 at an edge 38. An oblique face 40 intersects the face 14 at an edge 42, the face 16 at an edge 44, and the oblique face 26 at an edge 46.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, another oblique face 48 intersects the face 12 at an edge 50, the face at an edge 52, the oblique face at an edge 54, and still another oblique face 56, seen only in FIG. 3, at an edge 58.
The oblique face 56 also intersects the oblique face 32 at an edge 60, seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, and faces 14 and 16, at respective edges 62 and 64, seen only in FIG. 3.
In the polyhedron defining the module 10, intersecting faces meet at a dihedral angle of 120, and the larger included angles between intersecting edges of the faces are 190 28'.
Referring again to FIG. 1, a further oblique face 66 intersects the face 12 at an edge 68, the face 18 at an edge 70, the oblique face 26 at an edge 72, and yet another oblique face, hidden in these figures, at an edge 74.
Individual modules 10 are assembled to form complex building structures, such as the structure illustrated in FIG. 4, designated generally by the reference numeral 76. The structure 76 comprises four modules, designated respectively by the reference numerals 78, 80, 82 and 84. The modules 78, 80, 82 and 84 illustrate three different modes of growth for a structure using the rhombic dodecahedron as, its basic structural unit.
The modules 78 and 80 aretruncated modules in the sense that they are not complete rhombic dodecahedra. Referring again to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, let it be assumed that a vertically oriented cutting plane A is passed through the intersection of edges 24, 50 and 54. That plane A will also pass through the intersections of edges 22, 34 and 36; 38, 60 and 62; and 52, 58 and 64. Referring to FIG. 3, the plane A bisects each of the oblique faces 20, 32, 48 and 56. Moreover, if the module 10 is constructed so that all portions of the oblique faces 20, 32, 48 and 56 to the right of plane A in FIGS. 1 and 2 are omitted, the result is an open-ended truncate, the opening in which is square and the vertices of which lie on faces 12, 14, 16 and 18.
Referring again to FIG. 4, the modules 78 and 80 are joined along an edge 86 which defines a mutual plane of truncation. Triangular half-sized faces, of which faces 88 and 90 of module 78 and 92 and 94 of module 80 are visible, adjoin and define the edge 86.
The relationship between the modules 80 ane 82 illustrates the technique of growth by addition of modules in oblique planes. A hidden face of the module 82, corresponding to the hidden face of the abovedescribed module 10, overlies and is congruent with a face of the module 80 corresponding in its position to the position of the oblique face 20 of the module 10. The module 82 is offsetupwardly with respect to the module 80 by one-half the height of the modules 80 and 82. If desired, the modules 80 and 82 may merely be joined along the edges surrounding their congruent faces, the structural members ordinarily defining these faces being omitted to provide access between the interiors of the modules and 82. The edge 96 in FIG. 4 is an edge defined by the intersection of the modules 80 and 82.
The modules 82 and 84 illustrate growth in a vertical direction, across a horizontal plane. In this instance, the modules 82 and 84 are joined along edges corresponding to the edges 22, 30, 34 and 44 of module 10 in FIG. 2. Thus, referring to FIG. 4, edge 98 corresponds to the previously described edge 30 of module 10. Edge 100 corresponds to the previously described edge 22. A structural panel, not shown, may be provided at the intersection of the modules 82 and 84, thus providing a floor for the module 84.
FIG. 3 illustrates growth in a horizontal direction, across a vertical plane. In that figure, a module 10', shown in dotted line, is disposed alongside the module 10. The modules 10 and 10 are joined along edges corresponding to edges 38 and 62 in FIG. 3.
From the foregoing, it should be apparent that a modular building in accordance with this invention can be made to closely conform to the natural contour of an available site. The numerous growth options offered by the basic polyhedron module confer great versatility in design.
Referring now to FIG. 5, there is illustrated a building 102 in accordance with the invention. The building 102 comprises three truncated modules 104, 106 and 108 disposed in side-by-side relation along a common base plane. The building 102 also includes a full module 110, disposed in the same plane as the truncated modules 104, 106 and 108. Another full module 112 is associated with respective oblique faces of the modules 108 and 110, and interconnects the modules 108 and 110.
Respective front faces 114, 116 and 118 of the modules 104, 106 and 108 are coplanar. If desired, the interior space created by the modules 116 and 118 may be increased by use of a half-panel 120 coplanar with the front faces 116 and 118 of the modules 106 and 108, and a second half-panel 22 intersecting the halfpanel 120 and juxtaposed lower edges of the modules 116 and 118. A lower edge 124 of the module 106 appears in FIG. 5.
It is contemplated that buildings in accordance with this invention be constructed from highly standarized prefabricated panels. However, various specialpurpose panels may be used for desired effects. For example, in FIG. 5, upper vertices of the panels 114 and 118 are truncated to provide for insertion of fixed or movable window sections 126 and 128. Similarly truncated panels 130 and 132 are associated with the respective modules 110 and 112, and provide for the installation of window sections 134 and 136 in those modules. It will be recognized that panels such as the panels 114, 118, 130 and 132 can be made as full rhombic panels, with suitable window sections preinstalled.
Panel 116 is a specially constructed door panel, and includes a door frame 138, a door 140, and a fixed deadlight 142.
Suitable foundations, supports and internal framing, not shown, are provided for the buildings 76 and 102. In the illustrated building 102, each module 104, 106, 108, 110 and 112 has a full interior height of 19 feet 6 inches, determined by the size of the major diagonal of the individual rhombic panels. This height may be divided in whole or in part by suitable flooring. A wide variety of internal configurations will occur to those skilled in the art.
Referring now to FIG. 6, there is seen one form of panel joint intended for use in the present invention. The joint, designated generally by the reference numeral 146, interconnects typical panels 148 and 150. The illustrated panels 148 and 150 are of composite construction, using sheet steel external and internal skins 152, 154, suitably coated for corrosion resistance, and an internal core 156 of urethane foam or the like.
In one present form of the invention, wherein the individual full rhombic panels have dimensions of 19 feet 6 inches along their major diagonal and about 13 feet along their minor diagonal, the panels 148 and 150 have a typical thickness of 2 inches.
The panel 148 includes a male element or tongue 158 projecting in the plane of the panel 148 and extending in an edgewise direction. The skins 152 and 154 of panel 150 are spaced to form a female member or groove 160, adapted to receive the tongue 158. A portion 162 of the inner skin 154 of panel 150 is folded inwardly, and extends in a direction parallel to the plane of panel 148 to serve as a guide for insertion of the tongue 158 into the groove 160. An elongated angle section 164 extends along the intersection of panels 148 and 150. Suitable fasteners, such as the illustrated self-tapping screws 166, extend through respective flanges of the angle 164 to interconnect the panels 148 and 150. A suitable sealant may be placed between abutting faces of panels 148 and 150 after assembly.
Where male-female joints such as the abovedescribed joint 146 are used, the rhombic panels yield the following singular advantage. If successive adjoining edges of the rhombic panels are provided alternately with tongues 158 and grooves 160, a complete module, such as the module can be assembled from standard panels. For interconnected truncated modules, two forms of half-panels are provided in addition to the rhombic panels, namely those with (1) two male and one female joint portion and (2) two female and one male joint portion.
In regard to the panels 148 and 150, it is pointed out that the laminated construction, per se, is not a novel aspect of the present invention. Thus, numerous suitable panel constructions could be used. For example, fiberglass or vinyl outer coatings could be used, over foamed inner cores of urethane or other such material. Solid plywood panels could be used. Other suitable constructions will occur to those skilled in the art. Suitable internal framing may be used for the panels if required or desired. Framing 161 is shown in dotted line for the panel 118 in FIG. 5.
FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate two variations of another form of inter-panel joint suitable for use in the present modular building.
FIG. 7 illustrates a typical 120 joint 146' between respective panels 170 and 172, the 120 dihedral angle between panels 170 and 172 being determined by the geometry of the rhombic dodecahedron. The illustrated panels 170 and 172 are of composite woodplastic construction, using inner 174 and outer 176 plywood faces, disposed on either side of a foam plastic core 178. The faces 174 and 176 are jointed at their edges by edge strips 180.
A weather resistant facing, such as a fiberglass-epoxy layer 181, may be provided over the outer face 176. The edge strips 180 are beveled, as at 182, to facilitate positioning of the panels 170 and 172 in the required orientation. The edge strips 180 are also provided with arcuate edgewise grooves 184. Weather strip material 186 rests in the grooves 184 and sealingly engages an elongated tubular member 188. The member 188 extends the length of the edge between panels and 172. Bolts 190 project outwardly from the edge strips at spaced points along the length of the grooves 184. Aligned openings are provided in the tubular member 188, positioned to receive projecting ends of the bolts 190. Suitable fasteners, such as nuts 192, couple the panels 170 and 172 to the tubular member 188, and therefore indirectly to each other.
In one presently preferred form of'the apparatus, using panels 170 and 172 4 inches in thickness, the tubular member 188 is a polyvinyl chloride pipe having a 2 inch inner diameter and 2 inch outer diameter. Other materials, such as aluminum tubing or the like, are suitable for the tubular member 188.
If desired, the joint 146 can accommodate a third panel, converging on the tubular member 188 as indicated by the arrow X in FIG. 7. The third panel would make a dihedral angle of 120 with each of the panels 170 and 172.
FIG. 8 illustrates a joint 146", similar to the abovedescribed joint 146, but serving to interconnect panels converging at right angles. Thus, panels 194 and 196 lie in orthogonal planes, and are coupled to a pre-drilled compression tube 198. In the joint 146", toggle-bolts 200 are used to interconnect the panels 194 and 196 and a tubular member 198.
' The joints 146' and 146" provide a clean, finished external appearance, and due to the presence of the material 186, automatically provide for weather sealing. Moreover, if the tubular members are of transparent material, as they can be, striking interior lighting effects are obtained due to the admission of light between the panels.
The joints 146 and 146", and particularly the members 188 and 198 associated therewith, facilitate prestressing of the structural panels if the application of pre-stress is desirable in a given structure. In this regard, attention is now directed to FIGS. 9 and 10.
FIG. 9 illustrates a fitting, designated generally by the reference numeral 202, disposed at an external vertex of four panels. Such a vertex occurs at the intersection of the oblique faces, for example the faces 20, 32, 48 and 56 seen in FIG. 3. As is evident in FIG. 9, the fitting 202 is cruciform in plan view, and has respective hollow legs 204, 206, 208 and 210 extending in directions corresponding to the edges of intersecting panels. Each 7 of the legs 204, 206, 208 and 210 includes a reduced seen in cross section, fits within a tubular member 218. A gasket 220 also rests on reduced diameter portion 216, and is compressed between an end face of the tubular member 218 and a shoulder 222 on the fitting 202.
The fitting 202 provides an anchorage point for compression wires extending along the compression tubes between vertices. It should be understood that each vertex of the module is provided with a fitting analogous to the above-described fitting 202. For example, a three legged fitting would be provided for the intersection of panels forming planes 12, 20 and 48 in FIG. 1. Tubular members such as tubular member 216 extend along the edges of the module between fittings.
The fitting 202 has a central cavity 224. Tapered bores 226, 228, 230 and 232 extend from the cavity 224 along the axes of the respective legs 204, 206, 208 and 210. The tapered bores, of which the bore 228 in FIG. 10 is typical, provide seats for tapered split ferrules 234 clampingly engage tensioning wires 236 extending through the tubular members.
A cover plate 238, retained by an anchor bolt 240, normally covers the cavity 224.
It will be appreciated that by application of a desired tension to the tensioning wires 236 at installation, desired patterns of stress distribution can be applied to the various tubular members and panels.
The module 10 in FIGS. 1 to 3 and the various modules in FIGS. 4 and 5 are shown in orientations wherein faces corresponding to faces 16 and 18 of the module are disposed in horizontal planes. it is believed evident that buildings in accordance with the invention could be constructed, if desired, with modules rotated 90, so that faces 16 and 18 lie in vertical planes and the vertex formed by faces 20, 32, 48 and 56 faces upwardly or downwardly. When so-oriented, the modules could be assembled in horizontal and oblique directions as before, or joined along planes of truncation.
The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof and, accordingly, reference should be made to the appended claims, rather than to the foregoing specification as indicating the scope of the invention.
1. A modular building having an external shape comprising at least a major portion of a polyhedron of l2 planar faces, said faces being rhombic and substantially identical in shape and area, said faces being defined by individual panels, each of said rhombic panels including joint elements disposed at its edges for effecting coupling between panels, said joint elements comprising fastener means projecting from the edges of intersecting the panels and elongated hollow members disposed between edges of said intersecting panels, said fastener means being coupled to said elongated hollow members, fittings coupled to opposite ends of said elongated hollow members, and tensioning means comprising cables disposed within said hollow members and being anchored to said fittings at each end thereof for prestressing said elongated hollow members and said panels.
2. A modular building in accordance with claim 1 wherein the edges of coupled panels are spaced apart, and said elongated hollow members are transparent so that light may pass therethrough to the interior of said building.
3. A modular building in accordance with claim 2 wherein said elongated hollow members are hollow tubes.
4. In a building made up of discrete modules, a building module having an external shape comprising at least a majorportion of a polyhedron of twelve planar faces, said faces being rhombic and substantially identical in shape and area, said faces being defined by individual panels, said panels including joint elements disposed at their edges for effecting coupling between panels, said joint elements comprising fastener means projecting from the edges of said panels, elongated members disposed between the edges of intersecting panels, said fastener means being coupled to said elongated members, opposite ends of said elongated members being coupled to fittings, and tensioning means disposed between said fittings for prestressing said elongated members and said panels.
5. In a building in accordance with claim 4, said elongated members being hollow tubes, said tensioning means comprising cables disposed within said tubes and anchored to said fittings.
6. In a building made up of discrete modules, a building module having an external shape comprising at least a major portion of a polyhedron of twelve planar faces, said faces being rhombic and substantially identical in shape and area, said faces being defined by individual panels, said panels including joint elements disposed at their edges for effecting coupling between adjacent panels, said joint elements comprising fastener means projecting from the edges of said panels, and elongated transparent members disposed between the edges of intersecting panels, and said fastener means being coupled to said elongated transparent members, and said elongated transparent members being operative to permit light to pass therethrough to the interior of the building.