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The Collapsible House Engineering challenge

A challenge to build a house that can collapse with the pull of one pin
  [vote for,

working in construction/development, looking at lots of framing, I don't know how or why, but I thought of an idea that would be cool if you could pull it off.

Basically, it would be cool if you could build a house/house frame that would collapse if just one certain pin was pulled or one member was broken. Almost like a house of cards

This would actually be quite an engineering challenge to do it with house framing.

To lay some rules down, the house does have to be able to withstand the local seismic forces (wind, snow loads, dead and live loads). It does NOT need to be able to be put back up again, though that would be cool too. Now perhaps it would be necessary to make a rule that the frame only needs to be able to do this WITHOUT the sheathing. There is no feasible way to make the frame collapsible WITH sheathing, the whole point of the sheathing is to tie all the members together. I mean, it could in theory be done if each outer wall entirely fell over, or large pieces of wall like that did that, but that would be too easy. In that case, the rule would be that the frame need to be able to handle seismic loads ONCE SHEATHING IS APPLIED.

Obiouvsly, one way to do this is to use hinges instead of nails to join framing members together. When built, they rest freestanding on each other, like a joist on a column, or anything, but in the other direction it swings freely. And then you take advantage of that. That's just one starting idea how it could be done.

Part of the rules we may also need to ban simple central-column lean-to's. Perhaps the rule would be the (outline pad of the) house needs to be made of straight lines at right angles.

And the mechanism to initiate the collapse doesn't HAVE to be the pulling of a pin. Could be breaking one small member, could be hitting one spot with a sledgehammer to shake everything, or cutting of a rope, anything. I do believe it would be possible to not have a hard rule for this part.

Different engineering teams from different schools could participate, and there could be some kind of prize, or just recognition.

EdwinBakery, Jun 07 2012


       This really doesn't sound all that hard. The cop- out answer is to live in an inflatable house like a tennis court or football stadium, but an easy real solution would be to make the house out of panels. All the side panels fit in slots in the foundation and where the front and rear panels fit in recesses of the side panels and then have the side panels held together with cables. The cables come together in an X with a pin. Pull the pin and the weight of the roof pushes out the side walls, the front and back fall out and the rest fall into the center. This building plan probably has some advantages in that all the panels could be made and flat packed for shipment, then the assembly would take one crane. If you made the panels with a outer facing lip that would lock into the foundation as it rotates into its final position this would even work well in earthquake and hurricane areas as the cable structure would allow stretch and slide under extreme forces and then could return on its own or be brought back to align with turnbuckles. What do I win?
MisterQED, Jun 07 2012

       An igloo? The single pin pull turns up the thermostat.
AusCan531, Jun 07 2012

       Or it opens a gas valve and starts a spark plug, but I'm not sure if that's following the principle of the idea, because that's two things...
Ling, Jun 07 2012

       The scaffolds used to support lighting, loudspeakers, canopies, and other production equipment for rock concerts is made to go up quickly and come down even faster. I'd start with that as my design basis.
Alterother, Jun 09 2012


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