Build An Upgradeable Future With Grid Beam

Grid Beam is a building system which enables anyone to construct a variety of objects quickly and easily without expensive wood shop services or equipment. All of the Grid Beam system is based on re-usable standard beams of steel and wood with repeating hole patterns on all four sides. This offers its users an infinite number of possibilities. A community of Grid Beam users builds a wide range of constructions varying from solar-powered cars to bunks. The whole project has an ideological background, which definitely is shared here. The Grid Beam philosophy is all about building changeable, customizable, upgradeable and recyclable stuff. How to build on a flexible future without spoiling used material?

“As designers, we all strive to build products that will be relevant 50 years from now. But, since none of us knows what that future will really look like, design flexibility and reusability is essential. You might think of Grid beam as a structural glue that allows us to mix, match and mate different technologies together in new ways. This means that all of the components and custom parts that we make, or purchase and use together, share the same hole spacing as the Grid beam. This creates maximum parts interchangeability and design flexibility.”

The Grid Beam design group is an accomplishment of Buckminster Fuller’s challenge (“Good hardware is one of the few irrefutable proofs of clear thought”) and largely inspired by the ideas and techniques presented in Ken Isaacs’ book ‘How To Build Your Own Living Structures’, which is available in our online library. The great advantage of this system is the fact that it’s very simple to use. It doesn’t require any special hubs or connectors to make a strong frame.

To me, the Grid Beam system looks like the Meccano construction set that my father used to play with when he was young. I never really did, but heard a lot of good stories about it. I preferred to spend the long, dark Dutch weekends with Lego. In addition, I owned a hardly used set of Sio Montage — another almost forgotten construction set for kids.

In 2008, a book about Grid Beam was published, containing a collection of constructions produced using the system. One of the authors, Phil Jergenson, is one of the main developers of the grid beam building system. The other authors, Richard Jergenson (who’s been playing around with Grid Beam since 1977) and Wilma Keppel are convinced users.