Quality Shelter for the World

The American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, had a desire to use his talent to solve real problems that humanity faced.  From an earthquake-proof house to improving the quality of life of the urban dweller.  One problem he worked on for more than two decades, starting in the Great Depression, was how to make a house more affordable for a larger number of people.  Twenty years later, in 1954, Wright said, “The house of moderate cost is not only America’s major architectural problem, but the problem most difficult for her major architects.”

He believed to create this moderately priced home, two things needed to happen. First, the owner needed to be involved in the construction, and second, a modular block needed to be used to compensate for any lack of experience of the builder.

The system he eventually created was called the Usonian Automatic Building System with “automatic” referring to the ability of the owner to design and construct the dwelling him or herself. In the end however, Wright’s dream failed, in part, due to technical issues resulting from the available technology of his time. Today however, those problems are no longer an obstacle.

At blökalöks, we aspire to realize Mr. Wright's vision of solving the problem of affordable housing, more acute now than ever.  Today with the aid of modern materials and technology, we have taken the core principles of Wright’s dream (modularity and ease of use) and created a revolutionary new product called blöks.

Each blök is made using a technology called SIP (Structural Insulated Panels) originally developed by the US Forest Service in the 1930s. Adopting a method pioneered by one of Wright’s students , each blök uses a rigid polystyrene foam core surrounded by OSB to create a modular SIP panel. Panels can then be connected to construct homes that consume about half the energy of traditionally built homes.

The crucial step comes in the ability to mold the rigid polystyrene into a shape that allows for interlocking modularity. This, coupled with the use of CNC technology to machine the OSB panels, we’ve created a patented product that allows blöks to connect both horizontally and vertically while incorporating channels for wiring and plumbing.

Now that brings up another question. If SIP technology has been around for so long why haven’t homes been widely built with it if it is so much better? SIP homes are custom designed, machined from large panels, and put into place by a custom crew with a crane. Until now there hasn’t been a single standardized SIP building block that can be mass produced and used to build almost anything. With blökalöks that standard shape is a reality. The genius comes from combining SIP with a standard modular brick inspired by an ancient design.  Builders will now be able to buy blöks and use them to create structures in any number of designs.

Your vision lives on, Mr. Wright.