In 1980 our director designed a manufactured house that could be erected on the Canadian permafrost zones, one that would be raised to better resist the fierce winds and to avoid the potentially disastrous melting of the soil below it. To that end he joined forces with Placide Poulin and his manufacturing group to create Archimede Systems Inc., setting up a plant in eastern Québec. There Jacques designed presses to inject panels with high-grade insulating rigid foams. He chose the rhomboid geometry for strength, but also for the convenient manufacturing feature that all panels are nearly identical except for the openings. Before a few were erected in the Nunavik, the model caught on in the lower latitudes, thanks partly because of the high insulation values and the low price. Two years and $12M produced later, the houses were being built with little changes in the tropics; several of them were later hit by hurricanes Hugo, Frederic, David and a host of minor storms, all with little or no damage. They are still today the story of legends. But Archimede Systems Inc. had advertised the house as 'hurricane-proof' after conducting tests at the Laval University Civil Engineering wind tunnel in
Quebec City. Yet the theory was there already, for the strength and for the low wind drag factors of these dodecahedron shapes. This was no fluke. Neither was the earthquake resistance that was factored in at the onset of the Archimede program. Rhombic dodecahedron construction is notoriously resistive to horizontal shear in any direction. When raised on pillars that absorb the shocks, the deal is closed.
However, there was a fluke: twenty five years later, after the Indonesian tsunami, Poirier met some scientists confirming that this Arctic building solutions would be perfect for tsunami resistance. Actually it was almost perfect. Something small had to be invented. But that's a story better covered in the 'Tsunami' keyword.