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Digital Hut

The research project "Digital Hut" was initiated in December 2015 by the professorship for Experimental Design at the Hochschule Wismar under the direction of architect Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Julian Krüger in collaboration with the design office "responsive design studio" and the department of CAAD at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Ostwestfalen-Lippe under the direction of Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Hans Sachs. In addition to the funding provided by the Initiative Zukunft Bau of the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) further project partners supported the project through material donations, services and know-how.

Against the background of the rapid development and spread of digital and the so-called "exponential technologies", we are increasingly challenged to rethink social, economic and political structures and to formulate new strategies. The interlinking between the interaction of man and object, and automated control of processes offers a great array of opportunities. In this context there is an ever-greater scope for innovative techniques and concepts.

This raises a number of relevant questions: How will the way we invent, plan and build space change? Will architecture itself and the process of creating architecture become much more flexible? Is it possible to customize and fabricate buildings locally and assemble them even without tools? How will the digital revolution (in planning and fabrication) change the built environment of our cities and how we live in them? Can we use new technologies to modify and extend buildings on demand to create spaces which can easily adapt to change? Can architecture be fully customized and highly sustainable? Will digital communication and social aspects of "participation" and "sharing" make architecture more creative and inventive?

These developments and ideas confront our society but also structures of our industry with immense challenges. The main goal of the research project "Digital Hut" is the design and the prototypical production of a true "minimal house" using digital technologies, both as development and production and also later as actual architecture. The first concepts of ​​the "Digital Hut" were inspired by the myth of the "Primitive Hut" with the goal to develop and realise a "minimal dwelling of the 21st century" on the basis of the integrated and comprehensive use of various digital technologies. Hereby the focus lies on the co-creation of affordable, minimum but high quality living space in various urban environments by the user itself, a comprehensive digital construction system and consultant designers and planners.

The project was divided into 5 project phases/ workshops. The result of workshop 4 was the first 1:1 prototype of a "Digital Hut" which was presented on the trade fair stand "Initiative Zukunft Bau" of the BBSR in Munich in 2017. The "Digital Hut" - as a single dwelling or conglomerate of building units - fits perfectly into urban niches. Building gaps or leftover spaces in the city offer a wide range of possible solutions for an individual housing generation. The primary support system of the "Digital Hut" is a construction made of 24mm wood sheets that can be CNC milled or cut. The joints are part of an extensive plug-in system which meets the requirements for an adaptive and easy-to-install building structure with a high load carrying capacity and stiffness. The wooden structure sits on metal supports of which two possible solutions have been developed. One footer system that consists of two adaptable laser-cut 4mm steel plates and a customizable 3D printed (Selective Laser Melting) metal foot, which is optimized in form and material aspects in order to take on particular loads. The wall and floor termination of the rib structure of the "Digital Hut" is formed by sheet elements that are fastened to the primary construction held in position by a simple pin connection and fixed to the framework by an especially developed and 3D printed expansion plug. The panels provide additional lateral enforcement to the system. The "Digital Hut" can be cladded with different outer skins, i.e. aluminum-plastic compact plates.

Workshop 5 has been initiated as an integrated student project called "Clip Hut", where students of the "MID Master of Integrated Design"-program at the Detmold School of Architecture and Interior Architecture developed and realised a 1:1 prototype of a generative building system based on the principles and the research results of the previous workshops. A special focus of the "Clip Hut" was to interconnect architectural key aspects with an automation network. This means that the final configuration of an individualised "Hut" can be generated by a prototypical software-tool in "live" connection with existing architectural modeling and planning software.As the "Digital Hut" project, the "Clip Hut" is a generative building system based on various aspects at the intersection of the fields of architectural design and industrial IT and automation. The project is about generating choices and possibilities for its user, who is finally – at least partly – its designer, planner and builder. 

The dissolution of the boundaries between the disciplines of architecture, design, information technology, management, product development and materials science plays a key role in the development of the research project "Digital Hut". These technological developments provide new opportunities of linking people, processes and products. Today computation in architecture stands for high precision and flexibility of development and production processes. Considering existing, either craft based or highly industrialised structures in the building industry, this leads to a paradigm shift in the construction industry due to automation and networking. Within this context the project "Digital Hut" is less about the digitalization of existing processes in the development and construction of a building, but rather a disruptive application of different digital tools, methods and processes in the development, use, modification and dismantling, the so-called life cycle management of a building.
The focus of the development of the "Digital Hut" is also on an open development and fabrication network between users, designers and builders. This bottom up architectural planning and development approach leads to new ways of sharing and living in urban areas.

Laufzeit/Kooperationsform: seit 12/2015
Initiative Zukunft Bau des BBSR

Hochschule Wismar, Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Julian Krüger
Technische Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Hans Sachs, constructionLab

Digital Hut research team: Dipl.-Ing. Kolja Janiszewski, BA. Ben Sykes Thompson, BA. Mathias Karuzys

ClipHut team: supervisor: Jan Kahre-Heidemann (M.A.), student team: Tomas Mena, Tomasz Vieira, Maria Wilkens (please see further team members and supporters on the webpage