Tedd Benson believes architects, builders, and suppliers should embrace OpenBuilding technologies and technique, enabling the industry to create a series of standardized systems and processes that increase efficiency and reduce costs, without sacrificing creativity. John Habraken first expressed the principles of OpenBuilding in his book Supports: An Alternative to Mass Housing, published in 1961. Habraken proposed that housing must recognize the action of the community and that of the individual occupant. The concept of OpenBuilding therefore addresses the conflict between the inertia of the building industry and constantly changing consumer demand by decoupling building parts with different life cycles to facilitate adaptive change.
In 1994, Benson developed his Open-Built® system by merging the thinking of John Habraken and Stewart Brand (author, How Buildings Learn) with his own concepts to develop the first practical, digitally-based 3D design, fabrication, and construction system for OpenBuilding. Benson developed the Open-Built platform to allow simple modification of structures as occupant needs change.
The central idea behind Open-Built is to “disentangle” the building’s interior and exterior systems into separate, functional layers. One layer, for instance, would be lighting, wiring, plumbing, and ducts for heating and ventilation; and another would be cabinets and furniture. By building the home in the virtual environment before building it on-site, structural and aesthetic conflicts could be reconciled before build instructions were released, improving accuracy and eliminating waste.
The exterior of an Open-Built building is intended to last hundreds of years, while the interior systems with shorter life spans are designed for easy installation and access. The system enabled Bensonwood to begin fabricating entire wall systems in 2000—from insulation to windows—in the company’s design, fabrication, and assembly facility. The on-site building process is also completed in a matter of weeks rather than months.
In 2006, Benson began a partnership with MIT’s House_n Research Consortium and other industry partners, as part of an Open Prototype Initiative, with the goal of developing affordable, adaptable, high-performance houses.
Bensonwood’s Open-Built design+build system takes a layered approach to building, with each layer defined by its life span and anticipated need for future alteration. The high quality homes resulting from this process are built rapidly and with minimal waste. Bensonwood’s Open-Built process begins at the design phase, with a view toward well-organized, disentangled systems and a focus on efficiency in materials and assembly. This is carried throughout the building process to ensure efficient project coordination, easier scheduling, shorter construction time, and ultimately, lower costs to you — now, and in the future.