What’s great about the design of this house, called the FRP House after its fiber-reinforced polymer structure, is the experimental nature of the material. And by experimental, I don’t mean just different like an experimental hairstyle or the kind of experimenting that happens during college; instead, I appreciate that Atelier FCJZ, based in Beijing, is conducting tests and collecting data about an unusual structural system. By testing the compressive, tensile and bending strength of their design, the building mock-ups are approaching building reality. Someone had to be the the first to try reinforcing concrete with steel, right? Someone had to be the first to try braided hair.
The first person who braided his/her hair must have looked alien to folks who had never seen braided hair before. “What is… this… headropes?” But the design of this house is simple and modern in a way that doesn’t look so jarring. I can easily find articles published about fiber reinforced polymers in buildings systems from over a decade ago, and as this experimental material moves toward reality, it will confront new challenges (like how the enclosure system will work in this configuration). Still it’s nice to see architects experiment and to be reminded that building science didn’t stop progressing when we started using concrete and steel. Our future is an infinite series of new materials, the structures they enable, and the hairstyles we will wear inside them.