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Startlink lightweight building system

Researcher: Behrouz Zafari
Project duration: 2009-2012
Supervisor: Prof. Toby Mottram
Funding body: Technology Strategy Board (Low impact building programme)

Project Description

The goal of this R&D project is to engineer the Startlink lightweight building system so that a code 6 (carbon zero) housing unit can be executed at a relatively low cost. The University of Warwick is working in a consortium with six industrial partners, involving Exel Composites (FRP manufacturer), OCS Structural Plastics (FRP fabricator), Opitma Projects Ltd. (design specialist), Startlink Systems Ltd., Larkfleet House (house builder) and Costain (a leading UK construction company). The Startlink system comprises a bespoke family of pultruded profiles that can be rapidly assembled using innovative labour-saving assembly techniques. Using thin profiles to reduce material cost, the consortium will develop patented snap-fit and dowelled methods of connection to minimise on-site labour needs. Engineering structural analysis will optimise the new profiles and consider whole house performance, resulting in the construction of a two-storey, three-bed, low-cost house that automatically meets Passivhaus standards. Designed for buildability and adaptability, the Startlink system is going to avoid all site waste and require 'no' skilled labour, concrete or wet trades. Water saving measures and flood resistance will be integrated into the building design.

Aims and Objectives

The academic research has the aim of ensuring that all aspects of the structural engineering towards the Startlink house will be fit for intended use over the building's working live. To achieve this goal the structural engineering research will combine series of physical tests with appropriate structural analysis by simple and complex computational calculations. Specific attention is to be given to the novel methods of connection and towards understanding the overall instability and dynamic performances of the innovative fibre reinforced polymer house unit.