World’s First On-Demand Building System: BetaPort

Today, interconnected and fast-paced lifestyles, future mobility trends and constant material innovation puts pressure on a slow-moving building industry. How can architecture keep up with this trend? Following dynamic and nomadic lifestyles, architects must explore new structural systems that should be able to reach multiple locations, as well as be adaptable and reusable in the future. By applying revolutionary technology for circular, scalable components and carbon-negative buildings, UrbanBeta –a spatial innovation studio designing strategies, building concepts, predictive tools and platforms for creating transformative spaces– has developed BetaPort, a robotic construction system powered by artificial intelligence and automation.

Based on the principles of a circular economy, Urban Beta and BetaPort create a sustainable construction plan, ready to grow and change over time. The studio conceives sustainable on-demand architecture systems for flexible buildings based on a kit of parts.

Fabrication Process: Smart Buildings Made from Intelligent Building Blocks

As an interface for spatial innovation, BetaPort creates an on-demand building system that innovates with mobile solutions. Through a participatory, systematic and open-source approach, this methodology aims to achieve a democratization of the construction process.

With a fully automated mechanism, the system comes with an interactive planning platform: the BetaPort configurator, which uses machine learning and custom algorithms to develop interactive and predictive solutions for efficient spatial layouts, logistic flows and operations.

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Composed of three main components –the knot, the voxel and the beta building– BetaPort digitally designs customizable layouts. While the voxel plays with robotically designed open and flexible spaces, the knot enables the technical integration of building blocks. Once on-site, all elements are easy to assemble, guided by digital manuals for all building scales.

Throughout the entire process, the design encourages interaction and participation, making room for invisible information flows, relations and processes to be visualized, compared and optimized. 

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Sustainable Strategies: Circularity and Disassembly 

Combining locally sourced renewable materials (such as timber) with efficient digital planning for local and ecological manufacturing chains, BetaPort provides a scalable building construction method. With circular ‘building as a service’ (BAaS) solutions –which allow users to interact with buildings by using the available data–, the system develops a seamless integration of technical strategies in complement to a circular production chain, including material tracking.

New forms of mobility challenge today’s infrastructure and the planning of our cities. To guarantee the seamless integration of these new forms of mobility, we need to initiate sustainable planning techniques with long lasting socially just core values. Anke Parson, Partner of Urban Beta

Designed for disassembly, the system’s building blocks are joined using material passports and reversible connections. Mixing a sustainable production chain with a reversible engineered kit of parts supports an optimized building process and long material cycles. 

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For Florian Michelis, managing partner in BetaPort, the key to BetaPort’s differentiation from other building innovations is the possibility to deconstruct and reuse materials. “Thinking the last step as the first” enables architects to create flexible projects with long-lasting materials that can change their functions throughout their life cycle.

Flexible and Adaptable Design

In four sizes –XS, S, M and L– these modular building blocks meet diverse functional needs. Thus, depending on the amount of space that each project demands, the design can play with the following formats: ‘Parklet/Chargins’ from 5 sqm, ‘Pop-Up’ from 50 sqm, ‘Smart Hub’ from 100 sqm, and ‘Mixed Use’ from 1000 sqm. 

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Allowing multiple types of programs inside the layout, this model enables spatial flexibility while being able to react to changes by varying its capacities or alternating its functions. Following an open-source mentality, the design of these buildings can grow over time and adapt to ever-changing needs.

BetaPort Tyrol: A Proposal for a Modular Timber Airport

Under the motto of “new mobility needs innovative planning,” the proposal for Tyrol’s Airport repurposes classic air mobility typologies. Applying the BetaPort system, the team developed a modular strategy that resulted in a flexible building, one adaptable to future changes.

Through the use of renewable material strategies, the airport’s timber structure proposal makes a reference to traditional vernacular Tyrolean building techniques. For Florian Michaelis, combining the use of wood with innovative planning strategies, prefabrication and material processing enhances the development of circular economy models for sustainable mobility infrastructure.

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BetaPort system surges from the initiative of Urban Beta in collaboration with BART//BRATKE and graadwies. Creating inclusive, unconventional and transformative spaces, Urban Beta studio is led by Paul Clemens Bart, Marvin Bratke, Florian Michaelis and Anke Parson. For more information, visit BetaPort’s website.

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