Title:
Building Unit, Method for Assembling a Building Unit, Method for Transporting a Building Unit
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A building unit comprises a building element having a rib structure. The rib structure forms a frame for receiving at least one of a floor, wall, or a ceiling module. The rib structure comprises a corner fitting. The building unit may further comprise at least one additional building element placed offset and an intermediate module that interconnects at least two building elements.



Inventors:
Breimer, Anna Joke (Rotterdam, NL)
Application Number:
11/750151
Publication Date:
11/20/2008
Filing Date:
05/17/2007
Assignee:
Breimer, Anna Joke (Rotterdam, NL)
JAN SNEL B.V. (Monfoort, NL)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/653.1, 52/745.19, 52/745.2
International Classes:
E04B1/19; E04B1/343; E04G21/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAESTRI, PATRICK J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADSERO IP LLC (LITTLETON, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A building unit comprising a building element having a rib structure forming a frame for receiving at least one floor, wall, or ceiling module, wherein the rib structure comprises a corner fitting.

2. The building unit according to claim 1, wherein the rib structure comprises a corner fitting on each corner.

3. The building unit according to claim 1, wherein the rib structure is adapted for international container transport.

4. The building unit according to claim 2, wherein the rib structure is adapted for international container transport.

5. The building unit according to claim 1, wherein the external dimensions of the rib structure meet ISO-normalized requirements.

6. The building unit according to claim 1, further comprising at least one additional building element placed offset, further comprising an intermediate module interconnecting at least two building elements.

7. The building unit according to claim 6 wherein the intermediate module comprises a planar surface between the at least two building elements.

8. The building unit according to claim 6, wherein the intermediate module is adapted for engagement with a corner fitting of the building elements.

9. The building unit according to claim 6, wherein the building unit has at least one of a curved shape, a wave-like or cylindrical shape.

10. The building unit of claim 1 further comprising a locking mechanism operatively associated with the corner fitting.

11. The building unit of claim 8 further comprising a locking mechanism between the intermediate module and the corner fitting, the locking mechanism having a first orientation permitting separation of the intermediate module and the corner fitting and a second orientation preventing separation of the intermediate module and the corner fitting.

12. The building unit of claim 1 further comprising a second building element having a rib structure forming a frame for receiving at least one floor, wall or ceiling module, wherein the rib structure comprises a second corner fitting, the building element and the second building element being positioned with the corner fitting and the second corner fitting in abutment and a locking mechanism operatively associated with each of the abutting corner fittings.

13. A method for assembling a building unit, comprising: placing at least two building elements having a rib structure forming a frame for receiving at least one floor, wall, or ceiling module offset from each other; and interconnecting two building elements by means of an intermediate module.

14. The building unit of claim 13 further comprising: providing at least one cooperating corner fitting on each of the building elements and the intermediate module; aligning a cooperating corner fitting on each building element with a cooperating corner fitting of the intermediate module; providing a locking mechanism between each aligned building element cooperating corner fitting and each intermediate module cooperating corner fitting, each locking mechanism having a first orientation permitting separation of the cooperating corner fitting and a second orientation preventing separation between the cooperating corner fittings; engaging the locking mechanism in the first orientation with even aligned building element cooperating corner fitting and each intermediate module cooperating corner fitting; and moving the locking mechanism between the first orientation and the second orientation.

15. A method for transporting a building unit, comprising: placing at least one of a floor module, a wall module, a ceiling module or an intermediate module in a building element having a rib structure forming a frame for receiving a floor, wall, or ceiling module, wherein the rib structure comprises a corner fitting; and loading the frame as a transport container on a container transport vehicle.

16. The building unit of claim 14 further comprising a locking mechanism operatively associated between the container transport vehicle and the corner fitting, the locking mechanism having a first orientation permitting separation of the intermediate module and the corner fitting and a second orientation preventing separation of the intermediate module and the corner fitting and moving the locking mechanism between the first orientation and the second orientation.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a building unit and a method for assembling a building unit.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Building units are commonly used to assemble temporary and/or modular buildings. Building units can be used for different purposes, e.g. as a temporary housing for industry, utility, schools, student housing or events, or as an emergency housing after a natural disaster or a fire. Temporary buildings are built up for use during a limited time period and are removed afterwards. A modular building can be a permanent type building.

An advantage of using building units is the flexibility of the thus obtained building. Building units can be easily added or removed in a later stage of the life of the building, so the building can be adapted to changing needs. The possibility of re-using the building units makes the application flexible as well. Another advantage of the building units is that it is possible to construct a complete building in a very short time, and that—after use—the building can be de-assembled and the building units can be re-used for another building project. Since a modular building can be constructed relatively fast, disturbance of the building place and its environment is relatively short. Another advantage of the building unit is that elements of the building unit or the complete building unit can be prefabricated remotely under controlled conditions e.g. in a factory. The prefabricated elements and/or units can then be transported to the building site where—due to well-defined dimensions of the building units—a building can be erected rather fast. The short time period that is needed for erecting a building unit makes the building units suitable for temporary housings.

There are different types of building units known. A commonly used building unit is of a type comprising a rib structure forming a frame for receiving a floor module, a wall module or a ceiling module. The drawback of such a building unit is that the external dimensions of the building unit are such that transport is restricted by national transportation laws. This makes the international transport of the building units difficult and relatively expensive. Especially, the transport of these building units over sea is expensive. Therefore, the building units are mainly used locally. The high transportation costs make re-use geographically restricted and thus limit the possibilities for re-use. Although the building units can be transported by road, water or railway by various transport vehicles, transport is usually limited to road transport because of the high transportation costs.

The present invention is directed toward overcoming one or more of the problems discussed above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to an aspect of the invention, there is provided a building unit comprising a building element having a rib structure forming a frame for receiving at least one floor, wall or ceiling module, wherein the rib structure comprises a corner fitting.

In a preferred embodiment the rib structure comprises a corner fitting on each corner.

Advantageously the rib structure is adapted for international container transport upon a container transport vehicle (e.g., truck, rail car or ship), more particularly the external dimensions of the rib structure meet requirements for ISO-normalized container transport.

In a further embodiment of the invention, the building unit further comprises at least one additional building element placed offset, further comprising an intermediate module interconnecting at least two building elements.

According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for assembling a building unit, comprising placing at least two building elements having a rib structure forming a frame for receiving at least one floor, wall or ceiling module offset from each other, and interconnecting two building elements by means of an intermediate module.

According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for transporting a building unit, comprising placing at least one floor, wall, ceiling or intermediate module in a building element having a rib structure forming a frame for receiving the floor, wall or ceiling module, wherein the rib structure comprises a corner fitting, and loading the frame as a transport container on a container transport vehicle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order that the invention may be more fully understood, embodiments thereof will now be described by way of example only, with reference to the figures in which:

FIG. 1 shows a schematic perspective view of a building unit according to a first embodiment;

FIG. 2 shows a schematic perspective view of a building unit according to a second embodiment;

FIG. 3 shows a schematic perspective view of a building unit according to a third embodiment;

FIG. 4 shows a schematic perspective view of a building unit according to a fourth embodiment;

FIG. 5 shows a schematic perspective view of a building unit according to a fifth embodiment;

FIG. 6 shows a schematic top view of a building unit according to a sixth embodiment;

FIG. 7 shows a schematic perspective view of a building unit according to a seventh embodiment;

FIG. 8 shows a schematic perspective view of a building unit according to an eighth embodiment;

FIG. 9 shows a schematic perspective view of a corner fitting;

FIG. 10 shows a schematic side view of containers on a trailer;

FIG. 11 shows a schematic perspective view of container-to-container handling;

FIG. 12 shows a first schematic side view of a twist lock for container-to-container locking; and

FIG. 13 shows a second schematic side view of a twist lock for container-to-trailer locking.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENT(S)

The figures are merely schematic views of various embodiments disclosed herein. In the figures, the same reference numbers refer to equal or corresponding parts.

FIG. 1 shows a building unit comprising a building element 1 that comprises a rib structure 2. The rib structure 2 forms a frame for receiving a floor and/or one or more wall modules and/or a ceiling module. In this embodiment, a floor module 3 and a ceiling module 4 have been placed in the rib structure 2. According to one aspect the rib structure 2 comprises at least one corner fitting 5. In another embodiment, the floor module and the ceiling module are permanently part of the rib structure. The floor module is then e.g. formed from concrete which is molded such that it is permanently attached to the rib structure that is e.g. manufactured from steel components. The ceiling module can e.g. be implemented as a wooden structure attached to the rib structure.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, each corner of the rib structure 2 comprises a corner fitting 5. An advantage of providing the building element 1 with corner fittings 5 is that the building unit can be transported on a normal container trailer for road/water/railway transport. These trailers are widely available, which makes the transport relatively cheap and easy.

The rib structure 2 may be adapted for international container transport and more preferably, the external dimensions of the rib structure 2 meet ISO-normalized requirements.

A rib structure 2 that is adapted for international container transport is sufficiently stiff and strong so that it can be transported on a container transport vehicle, e.g. a truck, rail car or container ship. For international container transport, the rib structure 2 and its external dimensions will have to comply with ISO-norm numbers—amongst others—ISO 668:1995, ISO 830:1999, ISO 1496-2:1996, ISO 1496-3:1995, ISO 1496-4:1991, ISO 3874:1997 or ISO 6346:1996, the contents of which are incorporated herein. The rib structure 2 is then interchangeable with other ISO-containers, which means that the rib structure 2 can e.g. be placed at the bottom in a container ship with other filled ISO-containers above it.

By adapting the rib structure 2 for international container transport, the building element 1 of a building unit can be manufactured at any place in the world and can thereafter be transported to any place in the world. After use for a particular project, the building unit can be transported to a different location anywhere in the world where it can be re-used. This makes the building unit a flexible and cheap unit for assembling temporary housings and/or modular buildings. Further the re-use is not geographically restricted due to the easy transportation possibilities of the building unit.

In the embodiment as shown in FIG. 1, each corner of the rib structure 2 comprises a corner fitting 5, which facilitates handling during transport. On a container ship the containers are placed upon and/or next to each other, and can be secured to the ship and/or to one another by means of their corner fittings.

Also FIG. 7 shows a rib structure 2 of a building element 1. The rib structure 2 is in this embodiment adapted for international container transport by temporarily or permanently placing additional diagonal profiles 9 in the rib structure 2. The profiles 9 give extra strength and stiffness to the rib structure 2 for absorbing forces during transport. The profiles 9 can be used permanently in a modular building, e.g. in case of a high building. Then the profiles 9 would add to the stability of the modular building.

An easy way the building unit can be arranged for transport is shown in FIG. 4. By placing the floor module 3 and/or ceiling module 4 and/or one or more wall modules 6 in the rib structure 2, the rib structure 2 together with the modules 3, 4, 6 can be treated as a single transport container. This transport mode provides an easy to handle way for transporting the rib structure 2 together with one or more wall/ceiling/floor modules 3, 4, 6. By placing the modules 3, 4, 6 in the rib structure 2 space can be saved during transport, and separate handling of the modules 3, 4, 6 during transport can be avoided, which makes the transport cheap and limits the chances of damage of the modules 3, 4, 6 during transport. Also, by placing the modules 3, 4, 6 in the rib structure 2, the rib structure 2 is made heavier which is also advantageous for international container transport. Empty or light ISO-containers need to be placed on deck of the container ship for stability reasons. There is also a limited number of light containers a container ship can carry. When the rib structure 2 is made heavier, it can be placed in the body of the container ship instead of upon the deck, and they can be considered as normal ISO-containers for handling and loading.

FIG. 2 shows a building unit comprising two building elements 1 and an intermediate module 8 connecting the two rib structures 2. The building unit 7 of FIG. 2 can be completed with wall modules 6 to form e.g. housing. In the building unit 7 of FIG. 2 two intermediate modules 8 are placed between the two building elements 1. One intermediate module 8 is in this embodiment an intermediate floor module and forms part of the floor of the building unit 7, the other intermediate module 8 is in this embodiment an intermediate ceiling module and forms part of the ceiling of the building unit 7. The intermediate module 8 can also form a combined intermediate floor/ceiling module, such that by placing one intermediate module 8 between two rib structures 2, a floor and ceiling is simultaneously formed.

In one embodiment, the intermediate module 8 can be easily connected to the rib structure 2 by hooking the intermediate module over a rib of the rib structure 2. In another embodiment, the intermediate module 8 can be connected to the rib structure 2 by locking the intermediate module 8 into a corner fitting 5 of the rib structure 2.

During transport, the intermediate modules 8 can also be placed in the rib structure 2, which facilitates the transport of the intermediate modules 8 in the same way as the wall/floor/ceiling modules 3, 4, 6 can be transported, as shown in FIG. 4.

FIG. 3 shows a building unit 7 with intermediate modules 8. In this embodiment the space between two building elements 1 can be filled with more than one intermediate module 8, dependent on the dimensions of the gap to be bridged. In this way, the external dimensions of the intermediate module 8 can be kept such that the intermediate module 8 will fit in the rib structure 2 for transport. FIG. 8 shows an intermediate module 8 that is connected to the rib structure 2. The intermediate module 8 is itself assembled from different parts, so as to accommodate that all parts of the intermediate module 8 fit in the rib structure 2 during transport.

FIG. 5 and FIG. 6 show large modular buildings according to the invention. In FIG. 5 an example is shown of a complete building formed as a modular building. The modular building is built up from building elements 1 and intermediate modules 8. A cylindrical building or a wave-like building can be constructed by varying the orientation of the intermediate modules 8. By changing the shape of the intermediate modules 8, e.g. a rectangle, or a parallelogram, or a triangle, the form of the building can be varied as well. Special shapes of temporary buildings thus become possible, because the building is not limited to a rectangular floor plan.

Due to the possibility to transport and re-use the building elements 1, a building can be erected e.g. for a sports event in one country and can be de-assembled and put on transport to another country where it can be used for other purposes, e.g. as a house.

FIG. 9 shows an embodiment of a corner fitting 5 that is widely used for ISO-normalized containers, also the building unit 1 can be provided with corner fittings 5 on each corner. The corner fitting 5 is provided with holes 15 through which a locking mechanism can be provided. The corner fitting 5 is also provided with side holes 20 that can be used for locking an intermediate module to the building unit.

FIG. 10 shows two containers 10 that are placed on a trailer 11 by means of their corner fittings 5. For locking a container 10 on a trailer 11, a locking mechanism can be used. Many types of locking mechanism or locking means are available. FIG. 13 shows an embodiment of a twist lock 13. The body 14 of the twist lock 13 is welded on the trailer chassis. The pin 16 goes through a hole 15 of the corner fitting 5 with the twist lock handle 17 in a first orientation. Locking of the container 10 is done by turning the handle 17 approximately 90 degrees to a second orientation. In other embodiments the handle needs to be turned by another angle, e.g. by 180 degrees. All the four corners of the bottom of the container 10 can be locked to the trailer chassis 11 by means of a twist lock locking mechanism 13.

On a container ship and/or during storage, containers can be stapled upon each other, as shown in FIG. 11. Locking of the containers 10 to each other is done for example by a locking mechanism 18 which in FIG. 12 is embodied as a twist lock. The twist lock 18 is locked into a corner fitting 5 of an upper container 10 that will be placed on a lower container 10 in a first orientation, as shown in FIG. 11. Once the upper container 10 is placed upon the lower container 10, the containers are locked to each other by turning the handle 19 to a second orientation. When unlocking the container 10 from the lower container or from the trailer chassis 11, the handles 19 and 17 respectively can be turned in an opposite direction to the first orientation to release the containers.

It is noted that containers can also be placed adjacent to each other. The containers can then be secured with respect to each other, e.g. by using a side hole 20 of a corner fitting 5 in a manner comparable with a locking operation as described above.

While the various embodiments have been particularly shown and described herein, it would be understood by those skilled in the art that changes in the form and details may be made to the various embodiments disclosed herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention and that the various embodiments disclosed herein are not intended to act as limitations on the scope of the claims.