FYI: Jacobs-1-derived home to be built in New Zealand

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Post by JimM »


Since you asked (and I only publicly offer this for those who may find it of interest, those who do not can move on to the next post)... The company was Conecta Intl., in Roturara (sp?) up north. I think I prattled on about it in a previous post. Basically, the component is a 2 x 6 double T&G pine plank with holes drilled and spaced 50mm apart vertically along the length. These holes serve a multitude of purposes. They accomodate structural threaded rod tiedowns, high impact plastic "pins" between planks to prevent horizontal shear, as well as electrical and plumbing lines. A very Lego-like, efficient structural system that is also the interior finished wall, and in the Pacific Rim, the finished exterior also. In fact, the walls, windows and doors are assembled simultaneously without trained labor at a considerable cost savings. 2000 sf, incl garage, up and ready to roof in 2 weeks.

Our codes prevented full utilization of the incorporated hole feature in our house, and I did quite a bit of on site modifications. These issues were being examining and re-engineered before our operating capital (or lack of!) stopped further development. I'm aware of the Australian origin of the wool insulation, but it was a NZ firm we were working with and we also found a Canadian manufacturer. We also intended on using a NZ firm's technology, Conqra, who developed an incredible "floating" foundation system using a concrete and recycled polystyrene configuration which minimizes site excavation, especially on slopes and unstable soils.

My comment about the electrical addressed exactly the components you mention. My walls (interior & exterior) are only 2" thick and my budget mandated conventional (ancient) hardware rather than low profile or infrared technology. To keep outlets and switches flush, it necessitated creative design to solve the problem of my boxes being deeper than my walls! Running all electrical mains on the outside wall surfaces worked since they would be covered by insulation and cladding. I laid out the outlets and switches so the "ass ends" occurred in out of the way places such as closets.

What attracted and intrigued me initially, other than cost and ease of construction, was the application of this product in a Usonian sense. The wall system is more true to Wright than the common faux-usonian with stud walls and plaster. This was the first house I built as an owner, with a fraction of the effort some of Frank's clients (willingly) endured. No, I'm not making any correlation between me, original Usonian owners or assuming a substitute for a true Wright experience. That possibility ended with his demise, but my experience was similarly adventurous and personally satisfying.

I did not intend to imply we are not without knowledge of state of the art technologies in the USA. Only that as this discussion indicates, we basically do not build houses here any differently than we did 100 years ago, and many things are commonly done around the world that have yet to creep into the building trades here for a variety of reasons. The rush to seal (entomb) our houses for environmental reasons has resulted in more problems than we were trying to solve. We did a lot of research on why new houses were disintegrating, and other than shoddy work, without exception it became clear homes were not being built to breathe properly. Since we used breathing solid wood, our moisture issues concerned insulation and trying to minimize the finished wall thickness. We even considered a .25" layered bubble/polyethelene product used for satellite and frozen environment situations, as well as a ceramic paint as possible solutions to keeping wall thickness at a minimum. Frank would have a field day with todays products!

BTW, if no one posts sooner, the "screens" mentioned are sawn patterns (usually in wood) for ceilings and walls to accomodate windows or lights as a decorative element. This could be very costly, but you can see it in many of the Usonians. I'm not even sure how it may apply to your design.

I have to say here, I am no fan of faux-Frank and what is often self proclaimed organic architecture. Although many of these houses are "nice" enough, in my opinion they are totally devoid of individuality or soul due to their regimented quest to out-Frank Wright, succeeding only in being just one more style; the antithesis of organic design.


Jacobs 1 in New Zealand

Post by Av8r1 »

Look at that.....a new FLW inspired home in 2006! Very impressed. Please Keep the pictures coming.


Post by rgrant »

This talk about all the money this project will cost! To think that FLW did his for $5,500! Although I think the current owner spent around a million to restore it. Building costs are getting way out of hand.

I would be hesitant to take the word of a realtor about what will and will not sell. They tend to favor whatever is the easiest and most profitable for themselves. But you need only one buyer, and good architecture sells. Bruce Goff's Ford house, built with leftover World War II quonset hut framing, walls of anthracite coal inset with green glass cullets, with a circular studio suspended from wires with only fish netting for walls, only a porte cochere for the car and an exterior profile that made the central portion look like a Dairy Queen, went on the market at top dollar and sold almost immediately, even though it is located in a small city beyond commuting distance to the nearest metropolis. It just isn't true that all houses have to have the same amenities in order to sell. Build what you want rather than what Remax tells you to build.


Post by Guest »

On Rattenbury's 1997 Life Dream House he put the garage door facing the side of the house. One does not see it when looking directly at the front of the house.

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Post by pharding »

Anonymous wrote:On Rattenbury's 1997 Life Dream House he put the garage door facing the side of the house. One does not see it when looking directly at the front of the house.
IMO this is definitely a better design strategy if you have the space on the site. I agree with the previous comment that the low slope of the pitched is awkward. You should also look at the windows composed of squares. There are better ways to do that.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | | LinkedIn

Jerry K.
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Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 10:24 pm

Conecta - JimM

Post by Jerry K. »


I too looked at Conecta for a lake house project in Illinois. I was fascinated with the construction of the walls and the look of all wood interiors and made a connection with Usonian board and batten. I stopped though when the company withdrew their website and stopped returning my emails and faxes. I thought they went out of business. Then right after I signed contracts for building locally, I received an email from Conecta asking if I was still interested. They had run into a bad business deal with a North American partner and suspended their projects for a year or so - at least that was what I was told.

I still like the technology and product. The ease of construction reminded me of original Wright Usonian homeowners who built their homes themselves. I was going to do the same with the Conecta house. I also liked that they would adapt my own plan.

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Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2005 7:20 pm
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand

New Pictures!

Post by Mobius »

OK, we are progressing apace with the plans and the pricing! Should have a final-provisional price (if that makes sense!) by the middle of the coming week. I am very much hoping it can be built for less than $325K.

We are still trying to figure out how to handle the cladding. It seems Onduline may be as expensive as board and batten construction - so I may end up coming full circle, and going with the boards!

As part of a contra-deal, I am rebuilding the web site for (because it sucks!) which is what the floor will be done in.

In the mean time, I have built a 3D model of the house using SketchUp5, and if you are interested, email me, and I'll upload the actual model. (It's around 20MB with 2.5 Million polygons - so you will need a pretty grunty video card to view the thing properly)

For those not interested in using 3D software, I have taken a lot of screen-grabs, and made a movie of the place.

The latter folder contains 82 screen grabs and a 28.6MB AVI movie.

Sorry I am too lazy to rip that AVI into a tidy little .DivX movie - but if you're interested, it is there...
How many escape pods are there? "NONE, SIR!" You counted them? "TWICE, SIR!"

*Plotting to take over the world since 1965


Post by rgrant »

Looking good. The extent to which care has been taken with detailing is very impressive. I notice your land lines look like Hyacinth Bucket's (that's Boo-kay!) slim-line Princess phone. Nice retro touch. The man on the living room couch looks familiar. Could it be the ever elusive Sheridan?

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Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2005 7:20 pm
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand

Post by Mobius »

Heh! I know the show, but don't watch it. It's painfully like watching an American Sitcom. :P

The phones and most components in the model are bog-standard components which come with SketchUp the 3D modelling tool I used. I made some furniture which we already own, but tried to keep it minimal: I spent nearly 100 hours on that 3D model. (Compared to around 8 hours for the cardboard one.)

I HAD to make the model detailed: my partner Emma has real trouble visualising ANYTHING from plans, so...

Interior colour is likely to be alabaster white on every wall and ceiling, apart from a nod to Frank, with the front door being Cherokee red, inside and out.

It now looks like the Onduline cladding is too expensive compared to board and batten - so we will probably end up with a more original look for the exterior.

I recently recieved the book "Usonian Houses" (click "005" on top navigation) which is a simply wonderful book covering 12 of FLWs Usonian's, including:

Herbert Jacobs House I

Paul R. and Jean Hanna House

Lloyd Lewis House

Stanley Rosenbaum House

Loren Pope House

Kathrine Winckler and Alma Goetsch House

Bernard Schwartz House

George Sturges House

John C. Pew House

Gregor Affleck House

Theodore Baird House

Melvyn Maxwell Smith House

It has many interior, and otherwise unavailable photos of Jacobs #1.

As a result, I have refined the "core" roofline to more original (and less prone to leaks!). The Hotwater cylinder is gone, so the bathroom gets a redesign. Hot water will be by 2 gas push-through califonts. Air conditioning is by ceiling mounted "cassette" type outlet, with the heat exchanger being hidden below the "core" roof overhang.

Walls are dual-layered 12mm "GIB" board (plasterboard) to keep the interior noise levels down.

Concrete blocks are of the "hotblock" variety, with two internal partitions: one filled with polystyrene for insulation, and one air gap which allows electrical services (in conduits) and reinforcing rods + concrete to ensure the "stackbond" system has plenty of strength. (Christchurch sits atop the "Pacific Ring of Fire" and could be struck by a massive earthquake at any time.)

More details as they come to hand!
How many escape pods are there? "NONE, SIR!" You counted them? "TWICE, SIR!"

*Plotting to take over the world since 1965

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