US patent awarded for composite concrete forms

System is a key component to low-cost, solar-powered and eco-friendly housing being developed by Molinelli Architects and startup ST Bungalow LLC.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO, Washington, DC) has awarded a patent for a novel method of making a roof which is a breakthrough in the building and construction industries because it facilitates the use of a fiberglass form for concrete that becomes an integral part of the roof system and remains in place to provide tensile strength: no rebar or mesh is needed. 

Developed by Molinelli Architects (Briarcliff Manor, NY, US) and startup company ST Bungalow LLC (NY, US), this novel roof system is intended to be a key component of the low cost, affordable, solar-powered and eco-friendly “ST Bungalow” housing being developed jointly by the two companies.

The patent, titled "Method of Making Housing Components" (14/196,060), discusses developing inexpensive buildings that use compressed earth bricks (CEBs) and solar power designed to be manufactured in areas with little or no access to electricity, such as parts of Nepal and Haiti, for example.

These houses would use fiberglass reinforced resin or plastic (FRP) and concrete but no steel. Roofs are key components for keeping the overall housing unit price to a minimum. Thus, FRP would be used as a single layer in the roof but would also impart strength via an arched or domed shape. FRP as a material meets a long list of needs: able to distort in two directions allowing a concrete shell to handle structural work, having sufficient stiffness to span long distances while providing internal strength to roof components, easily molded into arched and domed shapes, and lightweight, thus less costly to ship.

The patent describes placing parallel arched or domed FRP forms on the housing unit edifice. Cement is then poured on top and contained with a temporary perimeter that is removed once set. The FRP forms remain and become an integral part of the thin-shelled roof system. In one embodiment, the forms span 265 cm with an overhang for a total of 549 cm and support a live load of 244 kg/m2.

The inventor is Michael Molinelli AIA LEED, of Molinelli Architects (, and author of Build Neat Stuff.   A model bungalow using CEBs is currently being built at the company's Briarcliff Manor office.

For general inquiries or for licensing of the technology, please contact Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP (, 212-238-8850.