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Building with Structural Insulated Panels

Izabela Katafoni
|
Design
|
Jun 23, 2017

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are an advanced method of construction of the 21st century. 

Their origins and earliest examples of SIPs reach to the 1930’s and the Usonian house by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The low-cost housing model for the “common people” of the United States. 

"It is not only necessary to get rid of all unnecessary complications in construction..."wrote Wright, "it is necessary to consolidate and simplify the three appurtenance systems—heating, lighting, and sanitation."  

Wright's Usonian houses were designed to control cost, they had no attics, no basements, simple roofs, radiant heating (what Wright called "gravity heat"), and efficient use of space, inside and out. 

Frank Lloyd Wright trial with panels were not very successful in popularity as their composition contained no insulation; they consisted of three layers of plywood and two layers of tar paper.  

The concept was taken further in 1952 by his student Alden P. Dow, who has developed first panels with Styrofoam Insulation between plywood. Many of these original SIPs can still be found in homes today. 

It took about 40 years for the SIPs to evolve to its current form with addition of the modern computer-aided technology that allows SIPs to be specifically fabricated out of Cad drawing in factories and then transported to site to be put together in a matter of days.   

Here in WA SIPs is still a relatively new thing but people these days are seeking alternative building methods and all they want is to achieve a house that will be more economical to construct and run. We have listed major benefits of Structural Insulated Panels to answer most common questions that people ask:  

Outstanding Thermal Performance: 

Structural Insulated Panels provide excellent thermal performance, which will last the life span of the building. This is due to the solid core of insulation throughout the structure   

Air-tightness: 

Poor air sealing is a major cause of heat loss in your home; Structural Insulated Panels provide a controlled indoor environment as a result of the system airtightness. Heat recovery system is then used to provide a constant flow of fresh air in a controlled temperature.  

Low Wastage: 

Structural Insulated Panels are manufactured and cut to desirable size in a controlled environment in a factory; therefore every panel cut is used as planned with no additional wastage to material.  

Fast Construction Method: 

Erection of the modular panels that are delivered on site numbered and in a correct order of assembly takes only weeks and can shorten your build process up to 4 times  

Improved scheduling and program control: 

Trades that follow up after the SIP panels are assembled can start work sooner as the Building System when wrapped with a breather membrane offers you a weather tight shell helping you complete your project faster  

Extra floor space:

Structural Insulated Panels create more internal floor space for the same external dimension comparing to masonry construction. This is because a SIP structure provides great strength and insulation in a smaller wall section  

Excellent resale potential: 

Homes build with SIP panels are very attractive to future buyers and occupiers due to the inexpensive running cost of a structure and healthy indoor environment.   

How to start a SIP project?  

SIP projects typically start similar as other projects. You need to have your plans prepared by an architect or building designer. Some manufacturers recommend that you can have any house plan adapted by simply adjusting the wall thickness. This is true and easy enough but if you don’t consider standard panel sizes and their connection details additional cost might be occurred in wasted panels and further adjustments.   

We believe it is important to design with panels in mind and use the product to its maximum.  

If you need a professional help with getting your plans ready please contact us at info@studioorigami.com.au and we can explain you in more detail the whole process to get you a more sustainable home  

Izabela Katafoni
Izabela Katafoni is the lead designer at Studio Origami

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