fiberglass house 1970, development, design und prototype: FG Design Wolfgang Feierbach

fiberglass house fg 2000, while manufacturing fiberglass furniture parts, I got to know, the enormous stability of fiberglass, a combination material from Polyester resin and fiberglass strings. In various textile modifications fiberglass
as a phonetic good sounding word, is technically spoken (FRP) or (glass fiber reinforced polyester resin) The strength can be directed as per design unidirectional for general purpose and most furniture and directional for example the roof elements of the fiberglass house pictured above or the bedding structures mentioned at the furniture chapter. The most running subject in my head was: Can I make a good living house with that material and how shall this look like. Some experimental houses where already build by Monsanto USA and Finnish Architects. All this experiments did not fit my thoughts. I liked to make a practical design with Room offers like any other house of modern art.

No existing design, had this functionality. It was on me to further wake up every night and scribbled down some Ideas, one was, the house should be made from one single peace. But than all houses where uniform exempt the colors. I skipped this idea and finally I designed in daytime, the above seen fiberglass house made of 13 strong roof elements each with a free span of 10 meters and 26 Wall elements 6 with rectangular windows and 20 elements in full surface. The downstairs office building was prepared with a solid steel reinforced concrete ceiling strong enough to hold the weight and traffic load of the upper story fiberglass house. The curved Wall elements where made because I had learned that while curing fiberglass produced heat and this could make uneven surfaces. So my desire was to make a curve on purpose would be much better as to receive one unspecified. The second picture shows the first wooden board to make the mold for the wall elements.


Some more wooden boards where used to finish the Molds for the wall elements and roof elements with a free span of 10 meters. After the molds where finish, we made the first roof element. For dimensioning there was nobody I could ask, so I decided to test the first roof element in an empirical way. We where already 15 employers all together when the first roof element was finished. We placed the roof element with booth ends on wooden blocks and jumped with all man on the element, there was no bending or cracking so I decided to make a second roof element. At this time I had an heavy American car .

We placed the second roof element next to the first one and I drove with that car on top of the two elements, also no bending no cracking. All good things are 3. We made a third roof element and placed it next to the already two. We made a ramp and asked a neighbor with its truck to drive on to the three roof elements, but I was worry that the tires might damage the outer skin of 6 mm fiberglass and we put some wooden boards across, this enlarged the weight but was safer for the upper laminate. There was an initial bending of 3 cm in the mid of the 10 meter and we left the truck on top over night. Next morning it was still the same, No more bending as the initial 3 cm so this was the signal for me to make all 13 roof elements and the 26 wall elements for the first fiberglass house.

The happy designer in front of the new house

This is the way all housing elements where made.
hand layup of fiberglass and suffused with polyester resin.

This are the 26 wall elements and some other roof elements are stored already on the concrete slab on the lower story office house. This was shortly before installation accured. It was a beautiful day in the month of May 1968 7:00 oÕclock as we started to install the first fiberglass house. 200 Press photographers, editors from building magazines, TV crews and the good old newsreel and daily newspapers where present. Sharp 7:00 o clock, the first roof element was lifted by 12 Man onto two sawhorses but as high as the standard ceiling height.

Next was to bring a wall element to each side of the basement. 4 man lifted this wall element from the platform car and slipped it over the edge of the concrete slab. The exact height had to be adjusted and than 1/2" holes where drilled between one end of the roof element and the upper end of the wall element 6 1/2 " bolts where used and with an electric screwdriver fastened. The first ring where erected 7:45. 3 rings where finished at 9:00 o clock, time for beakfast..

Here is the typical scene, the roof element is placed on the big sawhorse and I drove with our small VW
platform car the wallelement in place. 4 man could lift up this element and slip it in place of the concrete slab.

This drawing shows how the rainwater drainage will function. The outside surface of the roof elements are curved in two directions. Each element has it deepest point in the middle of each direction. At this middle point a steel fitting bow of 2 inch was laminated into the fiberglass roof element. Outside a short peace of a steel pipe with drilled side holes was placed to hold back leafs and dirt. Inside a 2 inch PVC freshwater tube, long enough to go strait into the canalization block installed before the next rain started. This is a very clever solution because in winter time, the PVC Tube lies in the warm interior and keeps the rain drainage open also at heavy frost.

Every 45 minutes 1 ring of the fiberglass house was installed. This picture shows how the 12 Man where placed and could easily lift up the roof element. Mostly I was in charge to pull the saw horses in place after the element was lifted high enough. This saw horses where made specially for this purposes and to stand in exact height to drill the holes for the screws.

This pictue shows the same work from an different angle

Till lunch break more than half of the fiberglass house was erected. This picture shows the lifting of one side window element. All together it shows that this design for a full size house is dimensioned that it can be installed without heavy machines or cranes and without overloading human capacity. All fiberglass elements can be manufactured under high quality standard in conditioned factories and even a big house can be installed in about 1 or 2 days. The elements for this whole house weighing 9.900 kg.

At lunch time the working crew and all present Journalists where invited, it was served hot sausages with bred rolls, beer, soft drinks etc. And all participants where delighted to see how fast and without any problems the first fiberglass house was installed. The result was a Newsreel Film in the Cinemas the next week, TV stories, articles in about 150 magazines and many articles more in daily newspapers. But installing the fiberglass house was one story, to make the interior was another story, because there was almost nothing on the Market we could buy, most Items to finish the house interior had to be designed by us as well.

Even the stairs we had to design by our self. Thinking in fiberglass a solution was found in making single stair elements, on one side we could bolt this individual stairs to the Brick wall from the Ground floor. The other side had to be hung from the concrete ceiling. The result is to be seen in the picture shown here left

At a central point between living area and sleeping area an electric control and switch panel was installed, showing Date and time , weather, temperature and humidity, switches for opening and closing the small side windows, curtains and awnings as well as all lighting in the house

As the above drawing has shown, the Roof and wall elements where hollow towards the inside. The flanges where bolded together from the inside, so I believe it is understood that the whole inside of the roof and the walls have to be decorated with something. We did not want gypsum and wall paper on top, to much was the influence of modern time, colorful textiles as shown in the 60th from designers like Verner Panton and others who have shown their newest design creations at the furniture fair in Kšln and specially at the Rheinships, they have chartered to show all this new ideas. Full colors of the full rainbow spectrum was in and the big chemical industries like Bayer Leverkusen, and others have developed flame retarded textile material specially for the home interior sector. As I was moving through the technicum at Bayer, it is an Idea laboratory, I became the idea to make a ceiling carpet over the whole fiberglass house ceiling. Our graphics designer Bernd Misske he liked this Idea as well and we started scribbling a color scheme. He came up with square puzzles each 125 x 125 cm and they could be placed for the functions of the rooms. I had to order 1500kg of dralon wool and tinted in the color scheme of our design. So we needet 75% 3 different blue till violet and 25% red, orange and yellow. As a base we used chipboard squares of 125x125cm, The wool we pulled into cardboard tubes as they are used to ship drawings. We cut them with the wool inside on our band saw in peaceÕs of 4;5;and 6 cm for the blues and 8;15 an 25cm for red till yellow,

Like big round brushes we stumped them into epoxy resin and placed them down to the chipboard squares. Next morning the resin was hardened and we took the cardboard tubes away and a square ceiling element was finish. In this way we made total 130 squares with 7 woman and 3 man in 4 weeks time. The squares where installed to the ceiling and than the inside wall elements were made.

cupboards in our house, are room area divider and here to be seen between main bedroom and childrenÕs bed room. All cupboard elements are sliding ones and designed to that each element separately can be pulled out of the row and access is from two sides. In the middle of the bedroom a round bed but with two mattresses of 240 cm¯ where made also by us. The mattress support had each 2 electric motors to lift up the leg portion and the back portion for comfortable rest.

Here at a closer look into the cupboards, shelfÕs can be seen for towels bedding fabrics etc. but also shelfÕs with a bar across are available to hang up menÕs and womanÕs day dresses.
The bathroom is an open area and part of the bedroom, divided just with a heavy curtain of towel fabric. Also the ceiling carpet and floor carped go strait into the bathroom area with no hesitation for some wetness or humidity. Here the wall panels are yellow Plexiglas, or room high mirror. The bathtub the washbasins and a bidet are made of vacuum formed orange Plexiglas. A skylight is build in, one of the roof elements and has an integrated electric fan. But due to the great amount of room volume, a typical humidity as can be found in ordinary bathroom environments could never been seen in this bathroom, not even in extensive usage with a lot of hot water used in bathtub shower or when very hot water was running on all outlets.The big mirror was never blind because of humidity.
To sell houses to the public in Germany, made of new material, an approval has to be applied at the ministry of housing. But a Certificate can be issued only, after many tests have been positively past at governmental testing institutes. The picture on the left shows in my left hand a lot of test certificates, all past positively, and in my right hand I am holding the ministerial Approval. The cost of all this was about 300.000,-- Deutsche Mark which we had to pay for one house as well as hundreds. Actually we made and sold 35 houses all in the 70th. In the 80th we made money on airport projects coming some chapters later.
The design of the house was new, the living style was new, thousands of people have seen the new house, one year as sample house was over, we moved in and we held a move in party with friends. Also this usage went positively through and we both, Renate and I with our three Children at an age of eleven, ten and seven years old, where happy to live in such an beautiful environment.

Kunststoffhaus FG 2000 Industriestr. 6
63674 Altenstadt Hessen.

Today its the year 2003 the sample fiberglass house fg 2000 build in 1968 stays like new now for 35 years. No changes where made in all this years, only we turned it into office and I have build another fiberglass house for my family, just one km away from the first house. In this 35 years we washed the outside of the fiberglass surface 5 times because the rain brings carbon dirt from the heating chimneys and seeds of algae to the wet fiberglass surface, like the boot hulls get algaeÕs from the sea. All this dirt sits at the surface very loose and can be removed with a pressure washer like others wash their cars. We are happy to announce that good result after this 35 years and I am sure it will make at least another 65 years to get a 100 years at least instead of the statement of the very careful judging experts in charge 1969 till 1973 when they where writing the governmental approval and estimated the live duration for about 12 years.

Thank you very much for visiting my Homepage
Best Regards
Wolfgang Feierbach
Wolfgang Feierbach, FG Design

Industriestr. 6
63674 Altenstadt Hessen Germany
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