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Living Structure as Bar

We have written before about using the Ken Isaacs designed Living Structures system in our home.  The simple grid based system can be used as a starting point for necessary things from shelving to the construction of whole houses. Currently, a Living Structure inspired system is our bed/shelving, providing a more efficient use of space in our bedroom. We have also used the Living Structure system for building projects outside the home


This is a Living Structure inspired bar in the art space, print shop and work space we helped to found in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro neighborhood. The bar is made in large part from old pallets as well as store bought wood. The red shelving slats are made from scavenged road construction wood.

Here in Copenhagen, when the city is doing a road construction project, these wooden slats are placed around the construction site to keep people away. They often break and are left behind. We gathered a lot of wood this way to make the shelves on the bar.

This is a bar and thus bar-shaped. So, it does not completely follow Isaacs’s Matrix system, the building block of the Living Structure design based on interlocking squares. It stretches out into more of a rectangle. It is inspired by the Isaacs’s system, however, because we kept the flexibility measures of the original Living Structure design. Such as, the evenly space holes for adding more shelving, or for moving existing shelving around. For some finishing touches to this design project, Brett added a light underneath the bar and we coated it all with water proof shellac after painting.

We are interested in shaping the spaces we inhabit with flexible design that maximizes both space use and material use. We keep coming back to the Living Structure system to inspire design solutions that fulfill these needs.

Fellow Ken Isaacs enthusiasts Bonnie Fortune and Brett Bloom write about their life at

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Fundamentals: Frames


Replimat frames are constructed of individual frame sections with a square profile or cross-section. All frame sections share the same profile, which is 40mm across each side. Frames of larger or smaller profile sizes may be produced, and continue to work with all of the construction techniques found here.

Hole Pattern

Holes are centered on each face of the frame and spaced regularly in a repeating pattern at a distance equal to the width of the frame. This geometrical arrangement allows the frame members to reliably produce rigid joints in three dimensions.


Frame lengths are intentionally limited to 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 80, and 100 holes per side. These lengths have been chosen to allow for the creation of all necessary joint configurations (using lengths 2, 3, 4, and 5) as well as to allow for lengths with a center hole and lengths which are evenly divisible by two. The reduced set of lengths allows for improved reuse from project to project, easier identification in photographs and diagrams, and simpler production, handling, and shipping.

Nuts and bolts

Frame sections are joined together using three lengths of bolt, suitable for 1, 2, or 3 stacked frames and share a single size washer and nut.


Frame assembly requires two 13mm wrenches. A socket wrench or battery powered electric socket wrench are highly recommended for quick and easy [dis]assembly.


Three frame sections can be joined with three nuts and bolts to form a strong three dimensional joint orienting each frame section perpendicular to the others.  Other joining techniques allow for triangular and hinged joints, which are sufficient to build several useful linkages including the Peaucellier–Lipkin linear motion linkage, Jansen’s linkage, leading link suspension, and more.