From playroom to construction site, company creates ‘real-life Lego kit’

A Turkey- and US-based company is building structures using moulded blocks made of composites that interlock much like a popular plastic toy construction brand

A Renco residential build. A Renco residential build using “Lego-like” composite blocks. (Photo credit: Renco)

After more than a dozen years of R&D and 400 safety tests for its synthesized concrete block product, RENCO USA (Renco) opened its first US residential complex – made of the composite blocks – in late 2023.

Known as Lakewood Village, the Palm Springs, Florida, US, residential dwelling was referred to as the “Lego Project” throughout the construction process, which was first announced in 2020.

That nickname, of course, is due to the appearance of Renco’s blocks, which include knobs on the top and openings on the bottom so that the pieces can link together.

“Think of it like a real-life Lego kit,” said Renco. “Moulded blocks that interlock and create entire structures.”

The 96-unit building in Florida is the company’s first in the states.

Renco’s blocks and construction process were first used in Turkey (where Renco currently manufactures its materials) to build structures designed to prevent and limit damage from earthquakes. Renco built a hotel and several residential structures in Turkey using this method.

The blocks, Renco says, are made from naturally occurring and repurposed material (up to 40%) like glass fibres, resin, and stone.

“Meaning materials that were destined for the landfill are reused instead,” said Renco, noting a significant portion of its resources (specifically glass fibres and resin) come from the shipbuilding industry.

The company says their blocks can “withstand a Category 5 hurricane.”

During construction, the blocks are fused together with a two-part methyl methacrylate adhesive.

“Creating a chemical bond that is stronger than the material itself,” said Renco.

Expanding in the US market, Renco plans to open a factory in Florida this spring.

Blocks that reduce costs

While Renco essentially provides a service in the sector of prefabricated and modular building, the company believes its unique composite, Lego-like blocks and construction process make it an ideal partner on projects seeking to reduce energy consumption and project time while increasing health, safety, and on-site productivity.

“By simplifying construction into a Lego-like kit, Renco buildings can be assembled much faster, reducing time on the job and energy consumption,” said the company.

Renco estimates it takes roughly two hours to train an individual on how to build with its products. Added, the company said the process is simple enough that expert builders are not necessary (in fact, it is quite the opposite).

“With 11 unskilled workers, it took about eight weeks to assemble each of the four identical three-story buildings,” said Renco.

Renco said a lack of necessity in hiring highly-skilled workers significantly cuts down logistic issues relating to labour shortages, another example of increased modular construction growth and solutions to labour issues going hand-in-hand.

Without heaps of materials to cut onsite or concrete overflow to manage, Renco says its process also helps reduce waste in the industry, overall.

Workers on a Renco site. Workers on a Renco site. (Photo credit: Renco)

“At a Renco site, there aren’t big dumpsters—there is no cutting to do, since every building is like a kit,” said the company, noting in-house recycling is a big part of composite production. “Even when Renco parts are moulded, any tailings… are added back into the mix.”

The company said a typical construction crew buys an average of 10%-extra materials to cut and fit onsite for errors. With Renco blocks, crews only need about 2% extra materials, the leftover of which can be saved for future projects.

While transportation costs can be a concern in modular construction processes like Renco’s, the company said the weight of its product (20% less than concrete blocks) plus an absence of need for heavy equipment or power tools to install means most projects present cost savings.

“The material is so much lighter,” said Renco. “For every one truckload of Renco’s composite materials, it takes four trucks to deliver the same number of heavy concrete blocks.”

As for the materials to build, all that is required is a fork truck to lift material, a glue gun powered by a small generator and a mallet.

Is a ‘real-life Lego kit’ sustainable?

Renco’s chief goals pertaining to achieving long term sustainability in the industry are building facilities that can last most of a century (and through harsh climate conditions).

“The greenest building is the building that doesn’t need to be replaced,” said Renco. “[Our] buildings are rated to last two to three times longer than conventional construction, which reduces need to rebuild every 25 to 40 years.”

Renco anticipates clients and building owners will find cost savings through other means, as well.

“As the impacts of climate change worsen, Renco construction is easier to insure because it has a longer lifespan than typical construction. It’s also rated to be hurricane and earthquake resistant and is resistant to fire, water, mould, termites, and pests. It simply won’t rust or rot and nothing will consume it.”

Due up for the company in 2024 is increasing sales in the US, which Renco said has already been productive.

“[We] have presales already in Florida and Alaska and plans to produce enough materials to build about 5000 apartment units this year,” said the company.

Latest News
CSCEC-built spiral tunnel officially recognised as world’s longest
A spiral tunnel in China, built by Chinese construction giant China State Construction (CSCEC), has been recognised as the world’s longest
Consortium wins €302m deal to build Swiss railway plant
A consortium led by Swiss construction company CSC Costruzioni has won a contract worth €302 million (US$327 million) to build a new railway plant in Switzerland
Epiroc to acquire French attachments manufacturer
Swedish OEM continues massive attachments expansion following Stanley acquisition