Title:
Modular Structure System and Associated Methods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular structure system comprises a plurality of modular units connected to one another. Each of the plurality of modular units are moveable from a collapsed position to an erected position and include a plurality of sidewalls defined by a plurality of cementitious panels hingedly connected to one another and moveable from a closed position to an open position, and a top defined by a cementitious panel. The collapsed position is defined by the plurality of sidewalls and the top being separated and configured in a flat position. The erected position is defined by the plurality of sidewalls being moved from the closed position to the open position and the top being positioned to overlie the plurality of sidewalls.



Inventors:
Jarski, Anthony (Port St. Lucie, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/621256
Publication Date:
07/10/2008
Filing Date:
01/09/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/79.5, 52/143, 52/745.2
International Classes:
E04B1/32; E04B1/344; E04H14/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MASHRUWALA, NIKHIL P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARK R. MALEK, ESQUIRE (MELBOURNE, FL, US)
Claims:
That which is claimed is:

1. A modular structure system comprising: a plurality of modular units connected to one another, each of said plurality of modular units being moveable from a collapsed position to an erected position and comprising a plurality of sidewalls defined by a plurality of cementitious panels hingedly connected to one another and moveable from a closed position to an opened position, and a top defined by a cementitious panel; wherein said collapsed position is defined by said plurality of sidewalls and said top being separated and configured in a flat position; and wherein said erected position is defined by said plurality of sidewalls being moved from the closed position to the opened position, and said top being positioned to overlie said plurality of sidewalls.

2. A modular structure system according to claim 1 wherein the cementitious panels of each of said plurality of sidewalls is a lamination defined by a pair of opposing outer cementitious panel members, at least one medial cementitious board member positioned between the opposing outer cementitious panel members, and mastic positioned between the outer cementitious panel members and the at least one medial cementitious board member; and wherein the cementitious panel of said top is defined by at least one outer cementitious panel member.

3. A modular structure system according to claim 2 wherein each of the outer cementitious panel members of each one of the plurality of modular units has a first predetermined thickness; and wherein the at least one medial cementitious board member has a second predetermined thickness.

4. A modular structure system according to claim 3 wherein the second predetermined thickness is greater than the first predetermined thickness.

5. A modular structure system according to claim 1 wherein each one of the plurality of modular units further comprises a plurality of hinge members carried by said plurality of sidewalls; and wherein each hinge member comprises a first hinge member positioned adjacent an outer peripheral portion of one of said cementitious panels of said sidewall, and a second hinge member positioned spaced-apart from the outer peripheral portion of one of said cementitious panels of said sidewall adjacent the cementitious panel carrying the first hinge member, said second hinge member to be hingedly connected to said first hinge member so that when said sidewalls are moved from the closed position to the opened position, the outer peripheral portions of adjacent cementitious panels are positioned flush with one another.

6. A modular structure system according to claim 1 further comprising an outer finish layer positioned to overlie outer peripheral portions of said plurality of sidewalls and said top of each of said plurality of modular units.

7. A modular structure system according to claim 1 wherein at least one of said plurality of modular units further comprises at least one passageway formed in at least one of said top and said plurality of sidewalls.

8. A modular structure system according to claim 7 wherein said at least one passageway is a kitchen device receiving passageway for receiving at least one kitchen device; and wherein said at least one kitchen device is at least one of a refrigerator, a sink, a range, a griddle, and a burner.

9. A modular structure system according to claim 1 wherein each of said plurality of modular units further comprises at least one of a plurality of casters and a plurality of leveling members carried by a bottom portion of said sidewalls.

10. A modular structure system according to claim 9 wherein each of said plurality of modular units further comprises a base; and wherein each base is positioned to carry said plurality of sidewalls of each one of said plurality of modular units; and wherein at least one of the plurality of casters and plurality of leveling members are carried by said base.

11. A modular structure system according to claim 1 wherein said top of each of said plurality of modular units further comprises a tile layer.

12. A modular unit moveable from a collapsed position to an erect position and comprising: a plurality of sidewalls defined by a plurality of cementitious panels hingedly connected to one another and moveable from a closed position to an opened position; a top defined by a cementitious panel; and a first hinge member and a second hinge member carried by said plurality of sidewalls, wherein the first hinge member is positioned adjacent an outer peripheral portion of one of said cementitious panels of said sidewall, and the second hinge member is positioned spaced-apart from the outer peripheral portion of one of said cementitious panels of said sidewall adjacent the cementitious panel carrying the first hinge member, said second hinge member to be hingedly connected to said first hinge member so that when said sidewalls are moved from the closed position to the opened position the outer peripheral portions of adjacent cementitious panels are positioned flush with one another; wherein the collapsed position is defined by said plurality of sidewalls and said top being separated and configured in a flat position; and wherein said erected position is defined by said sidewalls being moved from the closed position to the opened position, and said top being positioned to overlie said plurality of sidewalls.

13. A modular unit according to claim 12 wherein the cementitious panels of each of said plurality of sidewalls is a lamination defined by a pair of opposing outer cementitious panel members, at least one medial cementitious board member, and mastic positioned between the outer cementitious panel members and the at least one medial cementitious board member; and wherein the cementitious panel of said top is defined by at least one outer cementitious panel member.

14. A modular unit according to claim 13 wherein each of the outer panels has a first predetermined thickness; wherein the medial board member has a second predetermined thickness greater than the first predetermined thickness.

15. A modular unit according to claim 12 further comprising an outer finish layer positioned to overlie outer peripheral portions of said plurality of sidewalls and said top, and a tile layer positioned to overlie said top.

16. A modular unit according to claim 12 wherein at least one kitchen device receiving passageway is formed in at least one of said top and said plurality of sidewalls for receiving at least one kitchen device; and wherein said at least one kitchen device is at least one of a refrigerator, a sink, a range, a griddle, and a burner.

17. A modular unit according to claim 12 further comprising a base positioned to carry said plurality of sidewalls; and further comprising at least one of a plurality of casters and plurality of leveling arms carried by said base.

18. A method of moving a modular unit from a collapsed position to an erected position comprising: moving a plurality of sidewalls from a closed position to an opened position, the plurality of sidewalls being defined by a plurality of cementitious panels hingedly connected to one another by first and second hinge members carried by the plurality of sidewalls, the first hinge member being positioned adjacent an outer peripheral portion of one of said cementitious panels of said sidewall, and the second hinge member being positioned spaced-apart from the outer peripheral portion of one of said cementitious panels of said sidewall adjacent the cementitious panel carrying the first hinge member, and wherein the second hinge member is to be hingedly connected to the first hinge member so that when the sidewalls are moved from the closed position to the opened position, the outer peripheral portions of adjacent cementitious panels are positioned flush with one another; and positioning a top to overlie the plurality of sidewalls, the top being defined by a cementitious panel; and wherein the collapsed position is defined by the plurality of sidewalls and the top being separated and configured in a flat position; and wherein the erected position is defined by the sidewalls being in the opened position, and the top being positioned to overlie the plurality of sidewalls.

19. A method according to claim 18 wherein the cementitious panels of each of the plurality of sidewalls is a lamination defined by a pair of opposing outer cementitious panel members, at least one medial cementitious board member, and mastic positioned between the outer cementitious panel members and the at least one medial cementitious board member; and wherein the cementitious panel of the top is defined by at least one outer cementitious panel member.

20. A method according to claim 18 wherein at one least kitchen device receiving passageway is formed in at least one of the top and the plurality of sidewalls for receiving at least one kitchen device; and wherein said at least one kitchen device is at least one of a refrigerator, a sink, a range, a griddle, and a burner.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Published patent application No. 2005/0246969, filed on Jul. 28, 2003, by the inventor of the present application, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of modular component systems and, more particularly, to field of modular components for erecting countertops, and related methods.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Outdoor modular structural systems are typically used to construct outdoor summer kitchens. For example, a typical outdoor modular structure system may include a plurality of modular units joined together. Each of the modular units may have a base, a plurality of sidewalls, and a top having a passageway formed therein. A grill, for example, may be carried by the passageway. A propane tank may be carried within the sidewalls of the modular structure system to provide fuel for the grill. Some of these modular units, however, may be made of foam material, and are constructed on-site. The foam material may be covered with a coating to provide the appearance of a high strength unit, when, in actuality, each of these types of modular units likely have low structural strength.

Other units that may provide greater structural strength may be constructed using masonry blocks. These units may be very costly and time consuming to construct. For example, these units generally have foundation requirements, i.e., construction of a footer, and structural steel requirements, i.e., the installation of steel reinforcement in both the footer and between the masonry blocks. When these units are constructed, they are generally permanent. In other words, a unit constructed of masonry block is not likely moveable from the position where it has been constructed.

One type of foam unit is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,739,330 to Ross. The barbeque stand includes a base made of polystyrene foam and a cook top that is lined with fireproof board. Although this barbeque stand is light it weight, it may take excessive time to install, and may not have high structural properties.

Another modular structure system is disclosed in U.S. Published patent application No. 2004/0065313 by Thompson. This modular outdoor kitchen comprises a plurality of modular units joined together to form the modular system. Each unit includes a frame having a plurality of outer faces. Each of the units comprises connectors that are provided by rotatable latches. The rotatable latches connect each of the units to one another in a desired configuration. The frames of these units, however, may cause each unit to be quite cumbersome, and difficult to install.

Accordingly, a need exists for a modular structure system that has high strength properties. A need also exists for a modular structure system that may be readily installed on a site, and that may be easily manufactured.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing background, it is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a modular structure system that provides great customization flexibility. It is further an object of the present invention to provide modular units for a modular structure system that are simple to install.

These and other objects, features, and advantages in accordance with the present invention are provided by a modular structure system comprising a plurality of modular units connected to one another. Each of the plurality of modular units are moveable from a collapsed position to an erected position. The modular units preferably include a plurality of sidewalls defined by a plurality of cementitious panels that are hingedly connected to one another and moveable from a closed position to an open position. The modular units also preferably comprise a top defined by a cementitious panel.

The collapsed position may be defined by the plurality of sidewalls and the top being separated from one another and configured in a flat position. The erected position may be defined by the sidewalls being moved from the closed position to the open position, and the top being positioned to overlie the plurality of sidewalls.

The cementitious panels of each of the plurality of sidewalls are preferably laminations. More specifically, the cementitious panels may be defined by a pair of opposing outer cementitious panel members, cementitious board members positioned between the opposing outer cementitious panel members, and mastic positioned between the outer cementitious panel members and the medial cementitious board member. The cementitious panel of the top may be defined by a cementitious panel member. Each of the outer panels of each one of the plurality of modular units may have a first predetermined thickness and the medial board member may have a second predetermined thickness. The second predetermined thickness is preferably greater than the first predetermined thickness. The cementitious panels of the top and sidewalls advantageously provide enhanced structural stability to the modular units.

Each of the plurality of modular units may also comprise a plurality of hinge members carried by the plurality of sidewalls. Each hinge member may comprise a first hinge member positioned adjacent an outer peripheral portion of one of the cementitious panels of the sidewall, and a second hinge member positioned spaced apart from the outer peripheral portion of one of the cementitious panels of the sidewall adjacent the cementitious panel carrying the first hinge member. The second hinge member may be hingedly connected to the first hinge member so that when the sidewalls are moved from the closed position to the open position, the outer peripheral portions of adjacent cementitious panels are positioned flush with one another. Accordingly, the modular structure system advantageously allows for fast set-up of each modular unit.

The modular structure system may also comprise an outer finish layer positioned to overlie outer peripheral portions of the plurality of sidewalls and the top of each of the plurality of modular units. The outer finish layer advantageously enhances the aesthetic appeal of the modular structure system Further, the outer finish layer advantageously allows a user to customize the modular structure system as desired.

A passageway may be formed in at least one of the top and the plurality of sidewalls of each modular unit in the modular structure system. The passageway is preferably a kitchen device receiving passageway for receiving at least one kitchen device. The at least one kitchen device may be a refrigerator, a sink, a range, a griddle, or a burner.

Each of the plurality of modular units of the modular structure system may also comprise casters or leveling members carried by a bottom portion of the sidewalls. Each of the modular units may also comprise a base. The base may be positioned to carry the plurality of sidewalls of each one of the plurality of modular units, and the casters or leveling members may be carried by the base. The top of each of the plurality of modular units may comprise a tile layer.

A method aspect of the present invention is for moving a modular unit from a collapsed position to an erected position. The method may comprise moving a plurality of sidewalls from a closed position to an open position, and positioning a top to overlie the plurality of sidewalls. The top and the sidewalls are preferably defined by a cementitious panel. The collapsed position may be defined by the plurality of sidewalls and the top being separated and configured in a flat position, and the erected position may be defined by the sidewalls being in the open position, and the top being positioned to overlie the plurality of sidewalls.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an environmental view of a modular structure system according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a modular unit according to the present invention, shown in the collapsed position.

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a modular unit according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of a modular structure system according to the present invention and showing a base, a plurality of sidewalls, and a top.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a panel of a sidewall of a modular unit taken through line 5-5 in FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of a modular structure system according to the present invention.

FIG. 7 is an exploded cross-sectional view of a cementitious panel of a modular unit in a modular structure system according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is an exploded cross-sectional view of a cementitious panel of a modular unit of the modular structure system according to the present invention having pressure applied thereto using a weight and a weight disbursement device.

FIG. 8A is a cross-sectional view of the cementitious panel shown in FIG. 8 having the weight applied thereto.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.

Referring initially to FIG. 1, a modular structure system 10 in accordance with the present invention is now described in greater detail. The modular structure system 10 preferably includes a plurality of modular units 12 connected to one another. More specifically, the plurality of modular units 12 are connected to one another to form the modular structure system 10, as illustrated, for example, in FIG. 1. Of course, those having skill in the art will appreciate that the modular structure system 10 may comprise one modular unit 12, or any number of modular units.

Referring now additionally to FIGS. 2-5, additional features of the modular structure system 10 in accordance with the present invention are now described in greater detail. The plurality of modular units 12 are moveable from a collapsed position (FIG. 2) to an erected position (FIG. 3). Each of the modular units 12 includes a plurality of sidewalls 14 and a top 16. Each of the plurality of sidewalls 14 and the top 16 is defined by cementitious panels. More specifically, the plurality of sidewalls 14 may be hingedly connected to one another and moveable from a closed position to an open position. For example, and as illustrated in FIG. 3, the sidewalls 14 are hingedly connected to one another and swing open from a closed position to an open position.

The collapsed position of the modular structure system 10 is defined by the plurality of sidewalls 14 and the top 16 being separated from one another and configured in a flat position, as illustrated, for example, in FIG. 2. The erected position is defined by the plurality of sidewalls 14 being moved from the closed position to the open position, as illustrated, for example, in FIG. 3, and the top 16 being positioned to overlie the plurality of sidewalls, as illustrated, for example, in FIG. 4.

As illustrated in FIG. 5, and as further illustrated in FIGS. 7-8a, the cementitious panels of each of the plurality of sidewalls 14 are laminations. More specifically, the laminations are defined by a pair of opposing outer cementitious panel members 18 and medial cementitious board members 20 positioned between the opposing outer cementitious panel members. An adhesive material 22, such as mastic, for example, is positioned between the outer cementitious panel members 18 and the medial cementitious board members 20. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the adhesive 22 may also be provided by any other type of material suitable for bonding the outer cementitious panel members 18 to the medial cementitious board members 20.

The cementitious panels of the top 16 are preferably defined by an outer cementitious panel member 18. This advantageously provides the top 16 with the enhanced strength that is associated with such a cementitious panel, as well as the flexibility of such a cementitious panel. For example, the cementitious panel of the top 16 may be cut to any particular size, and may be readily made without the need to laminate outer cementitious panel members 18 and medial cementitious board members 20.

Each of the outer cementitious panel members 18 of each modular unit 12 has a first predetermined thickness. The medial cementitious board members 20 have a second predetermined thickness. The predetermined thickness of the medial cementitious board members 20 is preferably greater than the predetermined thickness of the opposing outer cementitious panel members 18. More specifically, the predetermined thickness of the opposing outer cementitious panel members 18 is preferably between about ⅛″ and ⅜″. Further, the predetermined thickness of the medial cementitious board members is preferably between ⅝″ and ⅞″.

The laminated cementitious panels of the sidewalls 14 may advantageously be used in many other applications. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that such laminated cementitious panels may be used for such applications that require high strength properties that can withstand environmental effects. Such applications may, for example, include fencing, decking, or any other type of application where environmental effects may be a factor, as understood by those skilled in the art. Further, those skilled in the art will appreciate that a plurality of panels may be joined together to form any type of structure. For example, a plurality of panels may be joined together to form a shed, or other storage facility. Again, use of such panels to construct outdoor structures is advantageous as the panels have very high strength properties and may withstand environmental effects.

As perhaps best illustrated in FIG. 3, each of the modular units comprises a plurality of hinge members 24. Each of the hinge members 24 comprises a first hinge member 24a positioned adjacent an outer peripheral portion of one of the cementitious panels of the sidewall 14, and the second hinge member 24b positioned spaced apart from the outer peripheral portion of the cementitious panel of the sidewall adjacent the cementitious panel carrying the first hinge member. More particularly, the second hinge member 24b is hingedly connected to the first hinge member 24a so that when the sidewalls 14 are moved from the closed position to the open position, the outer peripheral portions of adjacent cementitious panels are positioned flush with one another.

Accordingly, the positioning of the second hinge member 24b spaced apart from the outer peripheral portion of the sidewall 14 allows for the sidewalls to be folded into the closed position so that the modular unit 12 may be transported in the collapsed position. The collapsed position of each modular unit 12 allows for a plurality of modular units to be readily transported by one individual and in less space than is necessary for a modular unit that has already been erected. Further, the configuration of the hinge members 24 also advantageously allows each modular unit 12 to be readily erected using less labor. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the modular unit 12 may have any number of sidewalls 14 that are hingedly connected to one another. Accordingly, the modular structure system 10 of the present invention contemplates the use of a plurality of modular units 12 connected to one another using hinged connections, or a single modular unit having a plurality of sidewalls 14 suitable for forming the modular structure system.

As illustrated in FIG. 7, an outer finish layer 26 may be positioned to overlie the outer peripheral portions of the plurality of sidewalls 14 and the top 16 of each modular unit 12. The outer finish layer 26 may, for example, be stucco. Those skilled in the art, however, will appreciate that any other finish layer 26 is contemplated by the present invention. After the outer finish layer 26 has been applied, the outer finish layer may be painted to allow for customization of the modular structure system 10 as desired. The outer finish layer 26 advantageously enhances the aesthetic appearance of the modular structure system 10 by providing the appearance of a seamless structure.

With further reference to FIG. 7, and with additional reference to FIGS. 8 and 8A, construction of the cementitious panels for the sidewalls 14 of each modular unit 12 for the modular structure system is now described in greater detail. The laminated cementitious panels are preferably laminated under pressure. More particularly, and as illustrated in FIG. 8, after the outer cementitious panel members 18, the medial cementitious board members 20 and the mastic 22 have been placed together, a weight 42 is preferably applied thereto.

The weight 42 is preferably applied to the laminated cementitious panel evenly. Accordingly, a weight dispersing device 44 is positioned between the weight and the laminated cementitious panel. The weight dispersing device 44 may be any device that is suitable for dispersing the weight 42 applied to the laminated cementitious panels, such as a piece of plywood, for example, or any other similar device, as understood by those skilled in the art. The weight 42 may, for example, be provided by a plurality of cinder blocks, for example, or any other type of weight that may be positioned to overlie the weight dispersing device, for example. After the outer cementitious panel members 18, the medial cementitious board members 20 and the mastic 22 have been bound together under pressure, and as will be discussed in greater detail below, an outer finish layer 26 may be applied.

The plurality of passageways may illustratively be formed in the sidewalls 14 and top 16 of each of the modular units. The passageways may be kitchen device receiving passageways for receiving kitchen devices 28. Such kitchen devices 28 may include refrigerators, sinks, ranges, griddles, burners, or any other type of kitchen devices as understood by those skilled in the art. The passageways are preferably formed during the manufacturing process so that when the sidewalls 14 are moved from the closed to the open position, and the modular unit 12 is moved from the collapsed position to the erected position, the passageways are already formed and positioned in the proper location to receive the kitchen devices 28.

Each modular unit 12 may also include a plurality of leveling members 30, or a plurality of casters 32, as desired by the user. The plurality of leveling members 30 advantageously allows the modular structure system 10 to be positioned level regardless of the surface that the modular structure system is placed upon. The casters 32 advantageously allow the modular structure system to be readily moved after it has been erected in place.

The construction of each of the modular units 12, and the combination of the modular units into the modular structure system 10 using the above referenced cementitious panels is advantageously enhances the flexibility of use of the modular structure system, while also enhancing the strength properties of the modular structure system. For example, the modular structure system 10 of the present invention being constructed of cementitious panels has high strength properties, but may also be moved by a user, as desired.

As perhaps best illustrated in FIG. 4, each modular unit may also comprise a base 34 defined by a cementitious panel. The base 34 may be positioned to carry the plurality of sidewalls 14 of each modular unit 12. Further, the leveling members 30 or the casters 32 may be connected to a bottom portion of the base 34. The base 34 may be advantageous when the modular structure system 10 is to be installed upon a surface that is not solid, such as a grass or soil surface, for example.

As also illustrated in FIG. 4, the top 16 may also include a bar top 17 attachment. The bar top 17 attachment is positioned to overlie the top 16 to advantageously provide added height to the modular structure system 10, as may be desired by a user. More particularly, the bar top 17 may have a first portion extending upwardly from the top 16, and a second surface portion extending outwardly from the first portion to provide a horizontal surface. As further illustrated in FIG. 4, the top 16 of each modular unit 12 may include a tile layer 36. The tile layer 36 may advantageously enhance the aesthetic appearance of the modular structure system 10.

A method aspect of the present invention is for moving a modular unit 12 of the modular structure system 10 from a collapsed position to an erected position. The method may comprise moving the plurality of sidewalls 14 from a closed position to an open position, and positioning the top 16 to overlie the plurality of sidewalls.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to the mind of one skilled in the art having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed, and that modifications and embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims.