01 Winner Snap Interlock Modular System (1)
01 Winner Snap Interlock Modular System (2)
01 Winner Snap Interlock Modular System (3)
01 Winner Snap Interlock Modular System (4)
01 Winner Snap Interlock Modular System (5)

SIMS: Snap-Interlock Modular System- Winner for the year 2019 in product design

Design: Jin Young Song

Photo credits: Jin Young Song


In 1953, Konrad Wachsmann imagined a single universal structural element which, industrially produced, could be used in building construction for every conceivable purpose. More than 60 years after his notion of the systematic modular coordination based on the industrial production, our building structure is still based on the Dom-ino system (1914) or steel based post and beam, on top of which we are adding our digital advancement and sustainable technology as functioning ornaments. Current smart fabrication techniques with advanced digital design tools allow us to revisit Wachsmann’s holistic approach for the unit-based ‘part to whole’ system. SIMS (Snap-Interlock Modular System) is a structural module prototype based on the elastic instability of steel, distributing forces through its unique stacked and interlocked mechanism. One module has 4 hooked legs in the top and bottom direction, when one module snaps into 4 legs from connecting 4 modules, the 5 modules are interlocked as one unit. Finite Element analysis shows the elastic nature of steel and confirms the structural integrity for the construction scale. The module can be cast or cut to assemble for mass production. The internal structure of the module can be controlled to increase the stiffness. The center connector can be added to allow specific angles to form a curved geometry. The snap-interlock stacking is relatively easy to do by human hands and two arch shape prototypes are built using 3d printed modules. The system can achieve limited geometric freedom. Despite further structural analysis and new interpretation necessary, this ‘part to whole’ system can be applied to the building structure, facade application as sub-structure, sheer wall, partition wall, and more.