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Title:
A FRAMEWORK COMPONENT AND A FRAMEWORK STRUCTURE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/206916
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A framework component for use in a framework structure comprised of a plurality of framework components. The framework component comprises a frame comprising a first edge having a first profile and a second edge having a second profile corresponding to the first profile for allowing the second edge of the frame to abut a first edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component and for allowing the first edge of the frame to abut a second edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and a moveable support element connected to the frame. The moveable support element is moveable relative to the frame between: a retracted position in which the moveable support element either extends beyond the first edge by a first distance or is retracted behind the first edge of the frame for allowing the first edge to abut a second edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and an extended position in which a first part of the moveable support element extends beyond the first edge or further beyond the first edge than in the retracted position for engaging with another framework component adjacent the second edge. The frame further comprises an engagement section adjacent the second edge for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its first edge abutting the second edge, the engagement section comprising a first engagement surface facing in a first direction and a second engagement surface facing in a second, different direction, wherein the first and second engagement surfaces are for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its first edge abutting the second edge of the frame to prevent relative movement of the framework component and in at least two directions.

Inventors:
COOK, Jonathan (9 Luton Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8HQ, ME13 8HQ, GB)
Application Number:
GB2018/051147
Publication Date:
November 15, 2018
Filing Date:
April 30, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
STRATEGIC SUPPORT LIMITED (4 Priory Park, Mills RoadAylesford, Kent ME20 7PP, ME20 7PP, GB)
International Classes:
E04B2/74; E04B1/343; E04B1/58
Domestic Patent References:
WO2015157819A12015-10-22
Foreign References:
US20170121961A12017-05-04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCOTT, Mark (Elkington & Fife LLP, Prospect House8 Pembroke Roa, Sevenoaks Kent TN13 1XR, TN13 1XR, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1 . A framework component for use in a framework structure comprised of a plurality of framework components, the framework component comprising: a frame comprising a first edge having a first profile and a second edge having a second profile corresponding to the first profile for allowing the second edge of the frame to abut a first edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component and for allowing the first edge of the frame to abut a second edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and a moveable support element connected to the frame and moveable relative to the frame between: a retracted position in which the moveable support element either extends beyond the first edge by a first distance or is retracted behind the first edge of the frame for allowing the first edge to abut a second edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and an extended position in which a first part of the moveable support element extends beyond the first edge or further beyond the first edge than in the retracted position for engaging with another framework component adjacent the second edge, wherein the frame further comprises an engagement section adjacent the second edge for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its first edge abutting the second edge, the engagement section comprising a first engagement surface facing in a first direction and a second engagement surface facing in a second, different direction, wherein the first and second engagement surfaces are for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its first edge abutting the second edge of the frame to prevent relative movement of the framework component and in at least two directions.

2. The framework of claim 1 , wherein the moveable support element is moveable along an axis between the retracted position and the extended position; and wherein the engagement section is adapted to prevent movement of a frame of an adjacent framework component relative to the frame in two directions perpendicular to the axis.

3. The framework component of claim 2, wherein, in the extended position, a second part of the moveable support element is held between two surfaces of the frame such that the frame prevents relative movement of the moveable support element in the two directions perpendicular to the axis.

4. The framework component of any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the frame comprises a first frame member and a second frame member, wherein the first and second frame members are spaced-apart from one another and, in the extended position, the first frame member is adapted to prevent relative movement of the moveable support element in a first direction and the second frame member is adapted to prevent relative movement of the moveable support element in a second direction. 5. The framework component of claim 4, wherein the frame further comprises at least one connecting member extending between the first and second frame members.

6. The framework component of claim 4 or claim 5, wherein the first frame member and the second frame member extend parallel to one another; and wherein the first and second frame members having opposing first and second bearing surfaces respectively adapted to, in the extended position, prevent movement of the moveable support element in the first direction and in the second direction.

7. The framework component of claim 6, wherein the moveable support element is slidable between the retracted position and the extended position, and wherein the first and second frame members define a guide for the movement of the moveable support element between the retracted and extended positions.

8. The framework component of any of claims 4 to 7, wherein the first frame member and second frame member at least partially define the engagement section, with the first frame member comprising the first engagement surface and the second frame member comprising the second engagement surface.

9. The framework component of any preceding claim, wherein the moveable support element comprises a first support member, the first support member extending beyond the first edge in the extended position.

10. The framework component of any preceding claim, wherein the moveable support element comprises a first support member and a second support member connected to the first support member; and

wherein the moveable support element comprises a first support surface provided on the first support member and a second support surface provided on the second support member.

1 1 . The framework component of claim 10, wherein the first and second support members are fixed relative to one another and extend parallel to one another.

12. The framework component of claim 10 or claim 1 1 , wherein the first and second support surfaces extend in opposite directions.

13. The framework component of any preceding claim, wherein the frame defines a two- dimensional footprint when viewed from a first perspective, and wherein, in the retracted position, the moveable support element is within the footprint and, in the extended position, the moveable support element extends beyond the footprint.

14. The framework component of any preceding claim, wherein first and second edges are opposite one another so as to form first and second ends of the frame.

15. The framework component of any preceding claim, wherein the edges of the frame defines the edges of the framework component.

16. The framework component of any preceding claim, wherein the first engagement surface is opposite the first engagement surface. 17. The framework component of any preceding claim, wherein the frame further comprises third edge having a third profile and a fourth edge having a fourth profile corresponding to the fourth profile for allowing the fourth edge of the frame to abut a third edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component and for allowing the third edge of the frame to abut a fourth edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and a second moveable support element connected to the frame and moveable relative to the frame between: a retracted position in which the moveable support element either extends beyond a third edge of the frame by a first distance or is retracted behind the third edge of the frame for allowing the third edge to abut a fourth edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and an extended position in which a first part of the moveable support element extends beyond the third edge for engaging with another framework component adjacent the fourth edge, wherein the frame further comprises a second engagement section adjacent the fourth edge for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its third edge abutting the fourth edge, the engagement section comprising a third engagement surface facing in a third direction and a fourth engagement surface facing in a fourth, different direction, wherein the third and fourth engagement surfaces are for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its third edge abutting the fourth edge of the frame to prevent relative movement of the framework component and in at least two directions.

18. The framework component of claim 17, wherein the first moveable support element is moveable between its extended and retracted positions along a first axis and the second moveable support element is moveable between its extended and retracted positions along a second, different axis.

19. A framework structure comprising: a first framework component comprising a frame having first and second edges and a moveable support element connected to the frame and moveable relative to the frame between a retracted position and an extended position; a second framework component comprising a frame having first and second edges and an engagement section for engaging the moveable support element of the first framework component adjacent the second edge of the frame, wherein the first edge of the second framework component and the second edge of the second framework component are complimentary and are arranged so as to abut one another; wherein the moveable support element of the first framework component is moveable relative to the frame of the first framework component between: a retracted position in which the moveable support element either extends beyond the first edge by a first distance or is retracted behind the first edge of the frame; and an extended position in which a first part of the moveable support element extends beyond the first edge or further beyond the first edge than in the retracted position to engage with the engagement section of the second framework component, wherein the engagement section of the second framework component comprises a first engagement surface facing in a first direction and a second engagement surface facing in a second, different direction, wherein the first and second engagement surfaces are adapted to engage the moveable support element of the first framework component to prevent relative movement of the first and second framework components and in at least two directions; and wherein one of the first and second framework components further comprises an additional moveable support element connected to the frame of the framework component and moveable relative to the frame of the framework component between a retracted position in which the additional moveable support element either extends beyond one edge of the frame by a first distance or is retracted behind the edge of the frame for allowing the edge to abut an edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and an extended position in which a first part of the additional moveable support element extends beyond the fiedge or further beyond the edge than in the retracted position for engaging with another framework component adjacent the edge.

20. The framework structure of claim 19, wherein the first and second framework components are framework components accordingly to any of claims 1 to 18. 21 . The framework structure of claim 19,

wherein the additional moveable support element is provided on the first framework component; and

wherein the second framework component comprises an additional engagement section adjacent an edge of the frame for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having an edge abutting the edge of the frame of the second framework component, the engagement section comprising a first engagement surface facing in a first direction and a second engagement surface facing in a second, different direction, wherein the first and second engagement surfaces are for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its edge abutting the edge of the frame to prevent relative movement of the framework component and in at least two directions.

Description:
A FRAMEWORK COMPONENT AND A FRAMEWORK STRUCTURE

Field of the invention

The invention relates to a framework component and a framework structure. In particular, the invention relates to a framework component for use in a framework (or modular) structure and a framework structure comprising a plurality of framework components.

Background

Frameworks or framework structures are used for many different purposes in many different industries. Frameworks can be used as the basis for permanent structures, such as buildings, or temporary structures, such as temporary staging or temporary barriers. In these structures, the framework can provide the supporting means (e.g. sub-structure) for a structure to which additional components can be added (e.g. a cover can be put over the framework, or walls can be mounted to the framework) or, in other cases, the framework can form the entire structure.

Many framework structures suffer from problems, however. For example, due to their structural nature, many require specialist equipment and training to assemble, such as heavy machinery, lifting equipment, fixing equipment (e.g. welding equipment). Moreover, framework structures typically require numerous different components, which increases the complexity of the designs and the difficulty in assembling. For example, framework structures will typically require many different types of primary and supporting elements (e.g. beams, poles, supports, etc.), many different types of connecting components, and different sections for edges, corners etc. This has time and cost implications. Further, where different structure configurations are required, it can require redesign of the components or an assessment of the loads on the structure.

Another problem associated with existing framework structures is that where a single part of the framework requires maintenance or needs to be removed or replaced. In such cases, typically it is difficult to remove these parts without having to remove several other parts of the framework structure due to access being restricted and structural implications. These limitations also mean that there is limited customisability in the structures, either before or after assembly, and in their designs.

Summary of the Invention In a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a framework component as defined in claim

1 . The framework component is for use in a framework structure comprised of a plurality of framework components, and comprises a frame comprising a first edge having a first profile and a second edge having a second profile corresponding to the first profile for allowing the second edge of the frame to abut a first edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component and for allowing the first edge of the frame to abut a second edge of another framework component. The framework component also comprises a moveable support element connected to the frame and moveable relative to the frame between a retracted position in which the moveable support element is either retracted behind the first edge of the frame or extends beyond the first edge by a first distance for allowing the first edge to abut a second edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and an extended position in which a first part of the moveable support element extends beyond the first edge for engaging with another framework component adjacent the second edge. The frame further comprises an engagement section adjacent the second edge for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its first edge abutting the second edge, the engagement section comprising a first engagement surface facing in a first direction and a second engagement surface facing in a second, different direction, wherein the first and second engagement surfaces are for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its first edge abutting the second edge of the frame to prevent relative movement of the framework component and an adjacent framework component in at least two directions. Embodiments therefore provide a framework component for use in a framework or framework structure, such as a wall, comprised of a plurality of framework components, the framework component comprising a frame which is arranged such that it can be connected to adjacent framework components (i.e. a second framework component located with its second edge abutting the first edge of the frame and a third framework component with its first edge abutting the second edge of the frame) by means of an engagement section provided on one of the framework components and a corresponding moveable support element provided on the other. In this way, the framework component provides a means of supporting adjacent framework components and is supported by adjacent framework components through complimentary support elements, which engage with engagement sections provided on the adjacent framework components. For example, the moveable support element can interact with the support surfaces on the engagement section to enable forces applied to one of the framework components to be transmitted to other framework components and vice versa.

In other words, embodiments provide a framework component or element for use in a modular structure or framework structure comprised of a plurality of like or identical framework components or elements. The framework element comprises a frame or body having two engagement components which act to engage one another - a first engagement component in the form of a moveable support element or, in other words, a moveable engagement or connecting part, and a second engagement component in the form of an engagement section or, in other words, a receiving means or connecting section. The first engagement component can be located adjacent the first edge and is moveable between a retracted or disengaged position and an extended or engageable/engaged position. In the retracted or disengaged position, the first engagement component is retracted beyond a first part of the body, namely an edge or end of the body defined by a part of the body or a vector or imaginary line drawn between two outermost parts of the outline of the body when viewed from a first direction. In the extended or engageable/engaged position, a portion of the first engagement portion extends past the first part of the body so that it be received within and engage with or connect to a second engagement component on an abutting framework component, Alternatively, in the retracted or disengaged position, the first engagement component extends beyond a first part of the body by a first amount, which still allows it to abut an adjacent framework component without interference, and in the extended or engageable/engaged position, it extends beyond the first part by a second, greater amount. The second engagement component or engagement section is for engaging with a first engagement component of another framework component and comprise at least two surfaces or engagement means for bearing against and holding, supporting or engaging a moveable support element of another framework component so that movement of the receiving section and the moveable support element relatively thereto in the directions is prevented.

The frame comprises a first edge having a first profile and a second edge having a second profile corresponding to the first profile. In other words, the first and second edges are complimentary such that the frame (or specifically the edges of the frame) can abut other framework components (in embodiment, identical framework components) such that the first edge of the frame (with the moveable support element) will be adjacent an engagement section provided on the neighbouring framework component and, similarly, the second edge can be placed into abutment with a second adjacent framework component such that the engagement section is adjacent a moveable support element provided on the second adjacent framework component.

The moveable support element is moveable relative to the frame between a retracted position in which the moveable support element is either retracted behind the first edge of the frame or extends beyond the first edge by a first distance such that the frame can be moved into abutment with the second edge of a frame an adjacent identical framework component. In other words, the retracted position is one in which the moveable support member is withdrawn from the first edge or may extend over it by a first distance, but where the first distance does not interfere with the abutment of the first edge with a second edge of another identical framework component. For example, where the first and second edges are opposite one another, the moveable support member may be withdrawn between the first and second edges in the retracted position. The moveable support element may be provided in the same plane as the part of the frame defining the first edge, in which case the retracted position is one in which the moveable support element is behind the first edge (behind being the frame side of the first edge) or the moveable support element may be provided in a different plane to the part of the frame defining the first edge, in which case the retracted position is one in which the moveable support element is behind the first edge (behind being the frame side of the first edge) or one in which the moveable support element extends beyond a plane defined by the first edge by a first distance or amount. Correspondingly, the extended position is one in which a first part of the moveable support element extends beyond the first edge by a distance which is greater than in the retracted position (e.g. where the moveable support element extends beyond the first edge by a first distance in the retracted position, the moveable support element will extend beyond the first edge by a second distance in the extended position, which is greater than the first distance) so as to be engageable by the engagement section of an adjacent framework component (i.e. one in which the moveable support element is aligned with the engagement section, namely one in which the first edge of the adjacent framework component is abutting the second edge of the framework component in question). For example, this can be extending beyond the first edge by a greater distance than in the retracted position, for example such that half the length of the moveable support element extends past the first edge. In this position, one part of the moveable support element extends beyond the first edge so as to be able to engage the engagement section of an adjacent framework while the remainder of the moveable support element remains behind the first edge and can be adapted to contact or bear against the frame. For example, the frame may hold a part of the moveable support element so as to prevent relative movement in particular directions (for example, to prevent movement in the same directions as the engagement section is adapted to prevent movement in). In this way, the moveable support element can act to bear against both the frame of the framework component and the engagement section of an adjacent framework component. As set out above, the frame further comprises an engagement section adjacent the second edge for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its first edge abutting the second edge of the frame of the framework component. In other words, the frame comprises an engagement means which is located so that a moveable support element from another framework component (e.g. an identical framework component) can extend beyond the second edge and engage the engagement means (i.e. when the adjacent framework component has the moveable support element in the extended position). The engagement means can have an opening directed towards the second edge.

The engagement section comprises a first engagement surface and a second engagement surface facing in a different direction to the first engagement surface (for example, the first and second engagement surfaces may oppose one another), which surfaces are arranged to engage a moveable support element of another framework component (i.e. an adjacent framework component with its first edge abutting the second edge). In other words, the engagement section provides opposing surfaces which resist movement of the moveable support element so as to prevent relative movement of the framework component and an adjacent framework component in at least two directions (e.g. two opposing directions).

Embodiments of the invention therefore provide a framework component that is significantly more versatile than existing framework components. The framework component can be inserted into position and subsequently connected to an adjacent framework by moving the moveable support element from the retracted position to the extended position. In this way, the framework component can be moved into a position adjacent a second framework component without interference from the moveable support element and then, while in position, can engage the adjacent framework component by virtue of the moveable support element. This provides a simple means of connecting two components, which can eliminate or reduce the requirement for significant training, expertise or tools, and provides a framework component which be built on to form a modular framework comprised of a plurality of framework components. Simply by aligning the framework components and connecting the moveable support member with an engagement section of an adjacent framework component, the framework component can be used to easily and rapidly construct modular structures, such as walls, staging or barriers.

Moreover, the framework component acts as a support for adjacent framework supports (and can be supported by them in turn) by virtue of the moveable support element extending between the framework support and the adjacent framework support and contacting the opposing surfaces of the moveable support element. As a result, a weight/force applied to one of the framework supports can be transmitted to an adjacent framework support (e.g. by the bearing surface bearing on the engagement member, which in turn is supported by the framework component to which it is attached). Thus, the weight and force applied to the framework component by other framework components (e.g. other unsupported framework components) or additional parts, such as cladding, can be transferred between framework components by the engagement section and moveable support element. This also provides a self-supporting function to a framework structure comprising a series of framework components.

Embodiments also provide a means by which framework components in an assembled framework structure can easily be removed or replaced. In particular, using the retractable moveable support element, a single framework component can be removed from a structure, without requiring removal of any adjacent framework components and without having to use tools or carry out any complicated assessment of loads applied to the remainder of the structure. The ease of removal of one of the framework components within a structure (surrounded by adjacent framework components all aligned in a similar manner) is as a result of the use of the moveable support element which can moved from the extended position to the retracted position, such that the moveable support element is retracted sufficiently to allow the framework component to be slotted out from between adjacent (e.g. abutting) framework components. In other words, as it is the moveable support element that engages one of the adjacent framework components, once this is retracted, the overall size of the framework component is reduced. As will be appreciated, if there is a moveable support element of an adjacent framework component engaged with the engagement section of the framework component to be removed, then that moveable support element will also need to be moved from the extended position to the retracted position. This allows the framework component to be moved in a direction perpendicular (or substantially perpendicular) to the plane defined by the remaining framework components to thereby remove it without impacting the remaining framework components. Moreover, since the remaining framework components in the framework are each supported by other framework components and/or supporting other framework components, the removal of the framework component in question does not have a significant effect on the overall structure. This allows the framework component to be easily and quickly removed or replaced.

Similarly, a framework component can be inserted into a frame-size void in a framework (for example, such as a void formed by the removal of another framework component) in a straightforward manner. In particular, with the moveable support element in the retracted position, the framework component can be aligned with the void, and inserted into the void to align the frame with the frames of the adjacent framework components. From this position, the moveable support element can be moved into the extended position to connect the moveable support element to the engagement section of one of the adjacent framework components (i.e. the framework component adjacent the first end). Additionally, the framework component can engage the moveable support element of another adjacent framework component (e.g. the framework component adjacent the second end). This allows for easy repair or modification of a framework structure, something that would have previously required significant modification or reinforcement of prior art framework structures.

As set out above, the moveable support element is moveable from a retracted position to an extended position. This movement may, for example, comprise sliding the moveable support element, pivoting the element about and axis, or rotating the element about an axis of rotation (e.g. on a screw thread). In embodiments where the moveable support element is slidable relative to the frame, the moveable support element may be slidable within a plane defined between the first and second edges. The frame has a first edge or boundary and a second edge or boundary. The edges of the frame are defined by the outermost parts of the frame at one particular side. For example, the edges may be ends of the frame, for example opposite ends of the frame. An edge or end can be a face or plane defined by the outermost components of the frame (e.g. where the frame is defined by a plurality of frame members, the outer surfaces of the frame members may define the edges). For example, if the first edge is defined by four frame members arranged as a square, the edge can be defined as the plane defined by the outermost surfaces of the frame members, and can be considered to extend beyond the frame members in that plane. The frame can define at least one face (for example, which will provide an outer face of a modular structure) and the first edge can be one edge of the frame and the second can be another edge of the face. In some embodiments, the edges of the frame are the edges of the framework component. In other words, the frame defines the outer most part of the framework component in the retracted position. In some embodiments, in the retracted position, the moveable support element is contained between all of the edges of the framework component when viewed from a first direction. In another embodiment, in the retracted position the moveable support element is contained within all of the edges of the framework component when viewed from any direction. In some embodiments, the framework may consist or consist essentially of the frame and the moveable engagement element such that these are the only components of the framework. In this way, the footprint or edges of the framework in the retracted position can be defined only by the frame. In other words, the frame can be considered to define a two-dimensional footprint when viewed from a first perspective with the first and second ends defining boundaries of the footprint and, in the retracted position, the moveable engagement element is located within the footprint or extends beyond this by a first distance to allow the frame to abut an adjacent framework component (e.g. the second end of an adjacent framework component) without interference with from the moveable support element. This limits the clearance needed to insert the framework component into a framework and thus can allow the framework component to be inserted into a framework quickly and without requiring other components to be removed. Where the frame is comprised of members, which when viewed from the first perspective or direction define a hollow therebetween, the hollow is included in the footprint. Thus, a frame formed of four elongate members formed in a square with a hollow centre would have the footprint of a filled square, since the footprint is defined by the outer periphery or boundary. As the framework component is for use in a modular structure comprising a number of framework components aligned in the same way, these will define at least one face (e.g. a plurality of the framework components can be used to define a wall), the direction from which the footprint will be a direction front on to one of the faces (e.g. perpendicular to what will be typically be the front or rear face). Thus, in an embodiment, the frame comprises a front face, and the first perspective or first direction is a direction perpendicular to the front face.

In an embodiment, the first engagement surface opposes the second engagement surface. By opposing surfaces it is meant that the surfaces face opposite directions, for example towards one another (for example, directly towards one another (i.e. directly opposite)) or away from one another (e.g. in two different directions along a single axis). This is so that movement in opposite directions can be prevented. In some embodiments, the faces are provided in the same plane, such that vectors drawn from each of the faces and extending perpendicular to the faces would insect. Directly opposite means that the surfaces directly face one another - i.e. the same axis extends perpendicular through both surfaces.

It will be appreciated that when referring to the engagement section the use of "an adjacent framework component" herein means an additional framework component that has a first edge abutting the second edge of the framework component in question such that a moveable support element of the additional framework component is aligned with the engagement section of the framework component in question. Conversely, when referring to the moveable support element of the framework in question, "an adjacent framework component" as used herein means an additional framework component that has a second edge abutting the first edge of the framework component in question such that an engagement section of the additional framework component is aligned with the moveable support element of the framework component in question. In one embodiment, the moveable support element is moveable along an axis between the retracted position and the extended position; and wherein the engagement section for preventing movement of a frame of an adjacent framework component relative to the frame in two directions perpendicular to the axis. In this way, the engagement section can be used to retain the frame in position relative to the adjacent (e.g. identical) framework component so that the frames can mutually support one another. In other words, in some embodiments, the engagement section is adapted to prevent movement of a frame of an adjacent framework component relative to the frame in two directions perpendicular to the axis. In some embodiments, the two directions are opposite directions. In some embodiments, the frame further engages the moveable support element to prevent relative movement in two directions perpendicular to the axis, for example in the same directions.

In some embodiments, the engagement section is adapted to prevent movement of a frame of the adjacent framework component to the frame in all directions perpendicular to the axis and/or the frame is adapted to prevent movement of the moveable support element in all directions perpendicular to the axis. The engagement section can thus be adapted to engage a moveable support element so as to prevent movement except between the retracted and extended positions. In this way, a force applied to the framework component from any direction will be at least partially transmitted to the adjacent framework component by the moveable support element and thereby serve to support the framework component and vice versa. In a further embodiment, in the extended position, the moveable support element (e.g. a second part of the moveable support element) is held between two surfaces of the frame such that the frame prevents relative movement of the moveable support element in the two directions perpendicular to the axis. This further provides a means for reducing relative movement between the frame and an adjacent framework component. In some embodiments, the engagement section and the frame are adapted to prevent movement in the same two directions. In other words, the framework component is adapted to restrict movement of the moveable support element in the same way as the engagement section is adapted to restrict movement of a moveable support element of an adjacent framework component. This is so as to hold the moveable support element and thereby hold an adjacent framework component. In further embodiments, a releaseable locking means (for example, a moveable locking member provided as part of the engagement section or separate to the engagement section) can engage the moveable support element in a locked position so as to restrict movement of the moveable support element along the axis when in a locked position and can permit movement when in a released position. Alternatively, or in addition, a releaseable locking means may be provided for engaging a moveable support member of an adjacent framework component engaged by the engagement section.

In another embodiment, the frame comprises a first frame member and a second frame member, wherein the first and second frame members are spaced-apart from one another and, in the extended position, the first frame member is adapted to prevent relative movement of the moveable support element in a first direction and the second frame member is adapted to prevent relative movement of the moveable support element in a second direction. This provides a means by which the moveable support element can be held or retained by the frame to prevent movement in some directions, thereby allowing the moveable support element to transfer a force applied to the frame to an adjacent framework component and vice versa. As set out above, this may be in the same direction as the engagement section is adapted to prevent movement of a moveable support element of an adjacent framework component. In some embodiments, the frame further comprises at least one connecting member extending between the first and second frame members. Thus, in some embodiments, the frame may further comprise first and second connecting members extending between the first and second frame members. Thus, the frame members and connecting members can form a face of the frame, which essentially has a two-dimensional footprint (for example, the frame members may form a polygon, with one edge of the polygon defining the first edge of the frame and another edge of the polygon defining the second edge of the frame). As set out above, the edges are defined by the outermost boundary of the frame. Thus, in embodiments where the first and second frame members are connected by at least one connecting member, the first edge may be defined by a vector extending between one of the ends of the first and second frame members and, similarly, the second edge may be defined by a vector extending between the other ends of the first and second frame members (e.g. the adjacent ends) or where the ends of the first and second ends of the frame members are joined by connecting elements (e.g. to form a quadrilateral shape), then the first edge may be defined by a first connecting element extending between first ends of the first and second frame members and the second edge may be defined by a second connecting element extending between second ends of the first and second connecting elements. In some embodiments, the at least one connecting member is located in a plane extending between the first and second frame members. In other embodiments, the at least one connecting element is in a plane parallel to a plane extending between the first and second frame members. In this way, the moveable support element may be provided in the plane extending between the first and second frame members and, optionally, the inner or outer surfaces of the first and second frame members (relative to the axis between the first and second frame members) may form first and second bearing surfaces adapted to, in the extended position, prevent movement of the moveable support element in the first direction and in the second direction.

In an embodiment, the first frame member and the second frame member extend parallel to one another and have opposing first and second bearing surfaces respectively adapted to, in the extended position, prevent movement of the moveable support element in the first direction and in the second direction. This enables the first and second frame members to support any force or weight applied to the moveable support element in the extended position (e.g. from the framework component or an adjacent framework component). By opposing surfaces it is meant that the surfaces face opposite directions, for example towards one another (for example, directly towards one another (i.e. directly opposite)) or away from one another (e.g. in two different directions along a single axis). In another embodiment, in which there are first and second frame members, the moveable support element can be slidable between the retracted position and the extended position and the first and second frame members can define a guide for the movement of the moveable support element between the retracted and extended positions. For example, the first and second bearing surfaces may provide the guide. Thus, the guide can act as a means to restrict movement of the moveable support element to the movement between retracted and extended positions, although it is enough that movement in some other directions is restricted. The first and second frame members may therefore act as a track. In some embodiments, the guide may restrict movement in at least two directions and additional surfaces or elements may restrict movement in other directions such that movement of the moveable support element is restricted in all directions except between the retracted and extended positions. In additional or separate embodiments, where the first and second frame members are spaced apart, the moveable support element can be arranged between the first and second frame members, with the inwardly facing surfaces of the first and second frame members acting as the first and second bearing surfaces, respectively, and as the guide. This provides a simple and effective way of preventing movement in other directions in both the transition from the retracted position to the extended position and in the extended position.

In another embodiment, the first frame member and second frame member at least partially define the engagement section, with the first frame member comprising the first engagement surface and the second frame member comprising the second engagement surface.

In some embodiments, the first frame member and second frame member can define the engagement section (or a part thereof) and prevent relative movement of the moveable support element in a first direction. The second frame member can also be adapted to prevent relative movement of the moveable support element in a second direction. For example, in an embodiment, the first frame member and second frame member can define the engagement section (or a part thereof) and also can comprise opposing first and second bearing surfaces, respectively, and adapted to, in the extended position, prevent movement of the moveable support element in the first direction and in the second direction. The bearing surfaces may also define the guide and thus may be adapted to restrict movement of the moveable support element as it transitions between the retracted and extended positions. One end of each of the first frame member and second frame member (e.g. the end adjacent the first edge) can thus define the bearing surfaces and the opposite end of each of the first frame member and second frame member (e.g. adjacent the second edge) can define the engagement section or a part thereof. Thus, the first frame member and the second frame member can extend from the first edge to the second edge. In some embodiments, the bearing surface and the engagement surface may be the same surface; for example, different parts of the same surface.

In another embodiment, the moveable support element comprises a first support member, the first support member extending beyond the first edge in the extended position. Thus, the first support member is for engagement with an engagement section of an adjacent framework component. The engagement section can also, therefore, be adapted to engage the first support member of an adjacent framework component. The moveable support element and the engagement section may be adapted such that the first support member contacts one or both of the engagement surfaces. In a further embodiment, the moveable support element comprises a second support member in addition to the first support member, the first and second support members being connected to one another (for example, the position of the first and second support members can be fixed relative to one another). In such an embodiment, the moveable support element can comprise a first support surface provided on the first support member and a second support surface provided on the second support member. These surfaces arranged so as to engage the first and second engagement surfaces of an adjacent framework component (and accordingly, in such an embodiment, the engagement section is adapted to engage the first and second support surfaces of a moveable support element of another adjacent framework component such that when a moveable support element of an adjacent framework component is received and engaged by the engagement section, the first and second engagement surfaces engage the support surfaces of the moveable support element). Thus, in an embodiment the moveable support element has a first support surface facing a first direction and a second support surface facing in a second direction, the second direction being different to the first direction (e.g. opposite). In some embodiments, the first and second support surfaces face directly opposite directions and the first and second engagement surfaces are directly opposite and face one another. In other embodiments, the first and second support surfaces are directly opposite and facing one another and the first and second engagement surfaces face directly opposite directions.

Accordingly, in embodiments where the frame is provided with first and second bearing surfaces, the first support member may be adapted to bear against the first bearing surface in the extended position (and optionally in the retracted position) and the second support member may be adapted to bear against the second bearing surface in the extended position (and optionally in the retracted position). In some embodiments, the first support surface extends along the first engagement member so as to further engage the bearing surface of the frame in the extended position and the second support surface extends along the second engagement member so as to further engage the bearing surface of the frame in the extended position. Each engagement surface may face the same direction along its length and thus, the first bearing surface and the first engagement surface may face the same direction. These embodiments provide an effective means for supporting adjacent framework component and a means for enabling the framework component to be supported by adjacent framework components. Moreover, by having a single member extending between the frame and the engagement section of an adjacent frame, the framework component provide an effective means of supporting an adjacent frame without requiring complicated manufacturing techniques and complex engagement mechanisms. The effectiveness of the mechanism is improved by having a second member extending between the frame and an adjacent framework component, which member bears against the frame and is adapted to bear against an engagement section of an adjacent framework component in a different direction to the first member, since movement in multiple directions can be prevented thereby improving the structural integrity of the whole modular structure formed by the framework components.

In some embodiments, the first and second support members are fixed relative to one another and extend parallel to one another. Thus, in some embodiments where the frame comprises first and second frame members which extend parallel to one another, the first and second support members can be parallel to the first and second frame members and abut the first and frame members, respectively, such that the frame members form a guide for the movement of the moveable support element. Thus, the moveable support element can slide along the guide provided by the frame members between the extended and retracted positions. This provides a robust and easy-to-use means of securing a framework component to an adjacent framework component. In a further embodiment, the first support member is an elongate member with the elongate axis (i.e. in the length direction) axis extending parallel to the axis extending between the extended position and the retracted position. For example, where the moveable support element is slidable between the retracted position and the extended position, the moveable support element can slide along an axis extending between and parallel to the first and second support members. In one embodiment, the first and second support surfaces face inwardly relative to the axis extending therebetween (e.g. directly opposite one another) and the first and second bearing surfaces extend outwardly relative to the axis extending therebetween. In such an embodiment, the first and second support surfaces face one another and the engagement surfaces of the engagement section may also face outwardly relative to the axis extending therebetween. Conversely, in other embodiments, the first and second bearing surfaces face inwardly relative to the axis extending therebetween (e.g. directly opposite one another) and the first and second support surfaces extend outwardly. In such an embodiment, the first and second engagement surfaces face one another and the engagement surfaces of the engagement section may also face inwardly relative to the axis extending therebetween such that they face each other (e.g. directly opposite one another).

In some embodiments, the first and second support surfaces are directly opposite and prevent movement along a single axis (e.g. an axis extending perpendicular to the first and second support faces). In this embodiment, the first and second engagement surfaces of the engagement section can also be directly opposite so as to engage to first and second support surfaces of an adjacent framework component.

In another embodiment, the frame further comprises third edge having a third profile and a fourth edge having a fourth profile corresponding to the fourth profile for allowing the fourth edge of the frame to abut a third edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component and for allowing the third edge of the frame to abut a fourth edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and a second moveable support element connected to the frame and moveable relative to the frame between: a retracted position in which the moveable support element either extends beyond a third edge of the frame by a first distance or is retracted behind the third edge of the frame for allowing the third edge to abut a fourth edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and an extended position in which a first part of the moveable support element extends beyond the third edge for engaging with another framework component adjacent the fourth edge. The frame can further comprise a second engagement section adjacent the fourth edge for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its third edge abutting the fourth edge, the engagement section comprising a third engagement surface facing in a third direction and a fourth engagement surface facing in a fourth, different direction, wherein the third and fourth engagement surfaces are for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its third edge abutting the fourth edge of the frame to prevent relative movement of the framework component and in at least two directions. In some embodiments, the third edge is the same edge as the first edge and the fourth edge is the same edge as the second edge.

In an embodiment, the first moveable support element is moveable between its extended and retracted positions along a first axis and the second moveable support element is moveable between its extended and retracted positions along a second, different axis.

In a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a framework structure comprising: a first framework component comprising a frame having first and second edges and a moveable support element connected to the frame and moveable relative to the frame between a retracted position and an extended position; and a second framework component comprising a frame having first and second edges and an engagement section for engaging the moveable support element of the first framework component adjacent the second edge of the frame, The first edge of the second framework component and the second edge of the second framework component are complimentary and are arranged so as to abut one another. The moveable support element of the first framework component is moveable relative to the frame of the first framework component between: a retracted position in which the moveable support element either extends beyond the first edge by a first distance or is retracted behind the first edge of the frame; and an extended position in which a first part of the moveable support element extends beyond the first edge or further beyond the first edge than in the retracted position to engage with the engagement section of the second framework component. The engagement section of the second framework component comprises a first engagement surface facing in a first direction and a second engagement surface facing in a second, different direction, wherein the first and second engagement surfaces are adapted to engage the moveable support element of the first framework component to prevent relative movement of the first and second framework components and in at least two directions. Further, one of the first and second framework components further comprises an additional moveable support element connected to the frame of the framework component and moveable relative to the frame of the framework component between a retracted position in which the additional moveable support element either extends beyond one edge of the frame by a first distance or is retracted behind the edge of the frame for allowing the edge to abut an edge of an adjacent frame of another framework component; and an extended position in which a first part of the additional moveable support element extends beyond the edge or further beyond the edge than in the retracted position for engaging with another framework component adjacent the edge.

This aspect of the invention provides a framework structure or modular structure comprising a plurality of framework components. For example, there may be first and second framework components aligned with one another such that the first edge of the first framework component abuts the second edge of the second framework component. In this way, the framework components, which may be identical, are aligned with one another, such that from a front view (e.g. a view perpendicular to one of the framework components), the edges of the frames of each framework component are aligned. The moveable support element of the second framework component is provided in an extended position so as to engage the engagement section of the first framework component. In the retracted position, the moveable support element is retracted for allowing the first edge of the first framework component to abut the second edge of the second framework component or for allowing the first and second framework components to be placed into abutment. For example, where there are a plurality of framework components (e.g. at least a third framework component provided adjacent one of the first and second components and engaged with one of the first and second components using engagement components set out above) the framework component between the other two framework components can be removed from the structure without requiring the movement of removal of either of the other two framework components and can, similarly, be inserted into the structure without removal of the other two framework components, by movement of the moveable support element into the retracted position. With the moveable support elements (where present) in their extended positions, the framework components are engaged with one another and can thereby support one another. Embodiments thus provide a structure that can have framework components having a moveable support element (male) and/or an engagement section (female) components. This can lead to any combination of elements on a single framework components. For example, where there are two male/female engagement components, a single framework component may have a male/male arrangement, male/female arrangement or female/female arrangement. In some embodiments, there may be more than two engagement components - e.g. at least three, four, five, six, seven or eight engagement components selected from engagement sections and moveable support elements. In the aspect referred to above, the additional moveable engagement member may be provided on the second edge or a third edge, different from the first and second edges. In an embodiment, the first and second framework components are framework components accordingly to any of the framework components set out in the first aspect.

In an alternative embodiment, the additional moveable support element is provided on the first framework component and the second framework component comprises an additional engagement section adjacent an edge of the frame for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having an edge abutting the edge of the frame of the second framework component, the engagement section comprising a first engagement surface facing in a first direction and a second engagement surface facing in a second, different direction, wherein the first and second engagement surfaces are for engaging a moveable support element of another framework component having its edge abutting the edge of the frame to prevent relative movement of the framework component and in at least two directions. The edge adjacent which the additional engagement is provided may be the first edge of a third edge. In this embodiment, the first framework component has a male/male configuration. In an embodiment, the framework structure may further comprise a cladding panel attached to at least one of the framework components. In further embodiments, the modular structure may comprise first and second cladding panels attached to the first and second framework components, respectively. By cladding it is meant any covering or attachment for a framework component, either internally or externally, and may include insulation, waterproofing, weatherproofing, fireproofing, facades (e.g. decorative), structural parts and/or parts for providing an airtight building envelope. The cladding may be provided as a single layer of cladding or multiple layers of cladding, including for example, multiple layers of cladding having each of the properties described above. For example, a cladding may comprise a layer of insulation, a ventilation void and a layer of weatherproofing. Examples of layers of cladding may include insulation board (e.g. wood fibre, impregnated wood fibre, plasterboard) and/or polymer sheets or membranes. Moreover, the cladding may itself provide a load-bearing function and/or may include additional components, such as windows, doors, lights, vents and more. In an embodiment, the cladding is an insulating panel.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Specific embodiments of the invention will now be discussed in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 shows a front perspective view of a framework component in accordance with the invention;

Figure 2 shows a side perspective view of the framework component in accordance with the invention;

Figure 3 shows a side view of the framework component in accordance with the invention; Figure 4 shows a front view of framework structure in accordance with the invention; f

Figure 5 shows a front perspective view of a second framework component in accordance with the invention;

Figure 6 shows a front perspective view of the second framework component in accordance with the invention;

Figure 7 shows a rear perspective view of a framework structure in accordance with the invention; and

Figure 8 shows a front view of a framework structure in accordance with the invention.

In the above Figures, like features are given like reference numerals. For example, framework component is designated as 1 10 and 210.

Detailed Description

A framework component 1 10 in accordance with the invention is depicted in Figures 1 to 3. The framework component 1 10 is for use in a framework structure 100 (see Figure 3) comprised of a number of identical framework components 100.

The framework component 1 10 comprises a frame 120 and movable connecting element 150 mounted on the frame 120, as will be set out below. The frame 120 comprises a number of elongate frame members 121 , 121 ', 122, 122', 123, 123', 124, 124' four of which elongate frame members 121 , 122, 123, 124 are arranged to form a square front face 125 and four of which 121 ', 122', 123', 124' are arranged to form a square rear face 125'. The corners of the front face 125 and rear face 125' are aligned and the faces 125, 125' are the same size and are arranged in parallel planes such that they have the same two-dimensional footprint (i.e. a square) when viewed from a front perspective (i.e. from a perspective perpendicular to either the front face 125 or the rear face 125'). Each of the corners of the front and rear faces 125, 125' are joined by connecting members 126. Thus, the frame 120 generally has a cuboid shape with major opposing surfaces (front and rear faces 125, 125').

The particular arrangement of the elongate frame members 121 , 121 ', 122, 122', 123, 123', 124, 124' in the front and rear faces 125, 125' can be seen clearly in Figures 2 and 3. As can be seen in these figures, the front face 125 comprises two spaced apart horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 123 which run parallel to one another, are provided in the same plane and are arranged so that each end of each horizontal elongate frame member 121 , 123 is aligned in the vertical direction such that both horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 123 extend across the width of the front face 125 of the frame 120. These horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 123 are connected to two vertical elongate frame members 122, 124, with each of the vertical elongate frame members 122, 124 connecting two adjacent ends of the horizontal elongate frame members 122, 124 so as to form a square face. Similarly, the the rear face 125' comprises two spaced apart horizontal elongate frame members 121 ', 123' which run parallel to one another, are provided in the same plane and are arranged so that each end of each horizontal elongate frame member 121 ', 123' is aligned in the vertical direction such that both horizontal elongate frame members 121 ', 123' extend across the width of the rear face 125' of the frame 120. These horizontal elongate frame members 121 ', 123' are connected to two vertical elongate frame members 122', 124', with each of the vertical elongate frame members 122', 124' connecting two adjacent ends of the horizontal elongate frame members 122', 124' so as to form a square face.

In this embodiment, however, the vertical elongate frame members 122, 124 are provided in an adjacent plane parallel to the plane of the horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 123 and attached to the rear surfaces of the horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 123 (i.e. the surfaces facing the rear face 125' of the frame) to form the square front face. In other words, the vertical elongate frame members 122, 124 do not extend directly between the opposing faces 121 a, 123a of the horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 123, but are instead offset from the plane extending between the horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 123. This creates a track or guide between the inwardly facing opposing surfaces 121 a, 123a of the horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 123. The same arrangement is also provided in respect of the rear face 125' of the frame, so as to form a second track between the inwardly facing opposing surfaces 121 'a, 123'a of the horizontal frame members 121 ', 123'.

The frame 120 thus comprises the two major opposing surfaces in the form of front and rear faces 125, 125', a first edge (in this case a first end) corresponding to a plane defined by a first end face 127, which itself is an end face defined by vertical frame members 122, 122', connecting members 126 and the end faces of horizontal frame members 121 , 121 ', 123, 123', and a second edge (in this case a second end) opposing the first end and corresponding to a plane defined by second end face 128, which second end face 128 is defined by vertical frame members 124, 124', connecting members 126 and the end faces of horizontal frame members 121 , 121 ', 123, 123'. In other words, in this embodiment, the first end of the frame 120 is a plane extending perpendicular to the front and rear faces 125, 125' aligned with the outermost surface of the first end face 127 and the second end of the frame 120 is a plane extending perpendicular to the front and rear faces 125, 125' aligned with the outermost surface of the second end face 128. The moveable support element 150 is comprised of identical front and rear sections, which are interconnected by support connecting members 155. Each of the front and rear sections of the moveable support element 150 are formed of two spaced apart horizontal elongate support members 151 , 151 ', 153, 153' extending parallel to one another and interconnected by a vertical support member 152, 152' extending between the horizontal support members 151 , 151 ', 153, 153' thereby forming an ΐ shape. In particular, the front section comprises an upper horizontal elongate support member 151 and a lower horizontal elongate support member 155. The upper and lower horizontal support members 151 , 153 run parallel to one another and are arranged so that each end of each horizontal elongate support member 151 , 153 is aligned in the vertical direction. The horizontal support members 151 , 153 are connected by a vertical elongate support member 152 which extends perpendicular to the horizontal support members 151 , 153 and connects the inwardly facing opposing surfaces of the horizontal support members 151 , 153 at a point halfway along their length. This creates the ΐ shape. The rear section comprises the same structure with an upper horizontal elongate support member 151 ' and a lower horizontal elongate support member 153' spaced apart from one another, parallel to one another and interconnected by a vertical support member 152' extending therebetween. The front and rear sections are interconnected to form a single moveable support element 150 by support connecting members 155 which extend between the upper horizontal support members 151 , 151 ' and the lower horizontal support members 153, 153' to fix the positions of the front and rear sections relative to one another.

The moveable support element 150 is positioned on the frame 120 such that the front section is provided in the same plane as the horizontal frame members 121 , 123 and is held between a part of the inwardly facing opposing surfaces 121 a, 123a of the horizontal frame members 121 , 123, with the vertical support member 152 extending parallel to the vertical frame members 122, 124 and with the rear section of the movable support element 150 positioned on the opposite side of the frame 120, namely between the horizontal frame members 121 ', 123'. The support connecting members 155 extend through a cross-section of the frame 120.

The movable connecting element 150 is sized so as to simultaneously contact both the upper horizontal frame members 121 , 121 ' and the lower horizontal frame members 123, 123' on each face of frame. The part of the opposing surfaces 121 a, 123a of the horizontal frame members 121 , 123 nearest the first end, where the movable connecting element 150 is positioned, act as bearing surfaces 121 a', 123a' which bear against outwardly facing opposing support surfaces 151 a, 153a of the horizontal support members 151 , 153. The opposing bearing surfaces 121 a', 123a' of the frame 120 thus form a guide or track for the movable connecting element 150 to slide upon. The same arrangement is also provided on the rear face of the frame 120.

The movable connecting element 150 can slide relative to the frame 120 between a "retracted position" in which the moveable support element 150 does not extend beyond the first end of the frame 120, as shown in Figure 1 , and an "extended position" in which a first part of the moveable support element extends beyond the first edge by the horizontal support members 151 , 151 ', 153, 153' all partially extending beyond the first end, as shown in Figure 2. In particular, in the retracted position the end of the movable connecting element 150 (in this case, defined by the part of the horizontal support members 151 , 151 ', 153, 153' located adjacent the first end of the frame 120) is located on the inside of the first end such that no parts of the movable connecting element 150 extends beyond the first end. In other words, the movable connecting element 150 is contained within the footprint of the frame 120 such that no part of the movable connecting element 150 extends out of the two-dimensional footprint of frame 120 1 viewed from a direction perpendicular to either the front or rear face 125, 125'. In this way, the frame 120 can be inserted into a modular framework 100 with the first edge of the framework component 1 10 abutting the second edge of an identical framework component 1 10 without interference from the movable connecting element 150. In the extended position, the horizontal support members 151 , 151 ', 153, 153', which remain in the same plane as the horizontal frame members 121 , 121 ', 123, 123', extend beyond the first end of the frame 1 10 (in particular, beyond the vertical frame members 122, 122', the connecting members 126 and the ends of the horizontal frame members 121 , 121 ', 123, 123' at the first end of the frame 1 10) such that they protrude outwardly from the frame 1 10. In other words, viewed from a direction perpendicular to either the front or rear face 125, 125', a part of the horizontal frame members 151 , 151 ', 153, 153' extends out of the two-dimensional footprint defined by the frame 1 10. As will be explained in detail below, this allows the framework component 1 10 to engage with other framework components 1 10 to form a modular structure or framework 100.

As will be appreciated, and as is most clear from Figure 2, in the extended position of the moveable support element 150, any force applied to the exposed portion of the moveable support element 150 (i.e. the part extending beyond the first edge of the frame 1 10 in a generally downward or upward direction (e.g. in plane extending between the upper and lower horizontal frame elements 151 , 151 ', 153, 153') will cause the parts of the upper and lower horizontal frame elements 151 , 151 ', 153, 153' (i.e. the outwardly facing opposing support surfaces 151 a, 153a of the horizontal support members 151 , 153) to bear against the corresponding bearing surfaces 121 a', 123a' on the horizontal frame members 121 , 121 ', 123,123' of the frame. In this way, any weight applied to the exposed parts of the moveable support element 150 can be supported by the frame 1 10. Moreover, in this embodiment, a force applied in other directions (indeed any direction that is not along the axis along which the moveable support element can slide between the retracted and extended positions) can also be applied to the frame through bearing of the horizontal support members 151 , 151 ', 153, 15' against a part of the frame 1 10, since the horizontal support members 151 , 151 ', 153, 15' can also bear against the vertical frame members 122, 122'. This also provides a means by which the moveable support element 150 can at least be partially held on the frame 1 10. This framework component 1 10 is according a structure that can easily be manufactured using standard construction techniques and can use relatively cheap and readily available components to construct a structurally robust framework component that can support adjacent framework components 1 10 and which can thus be used to quickly and cost-effectively construct a robust framework structure (framework structure).

In addition to the above, the frame 1 10 also comprises an engagement section (shown generally as 130) adjacent the second end of the frame 1 10 for engaging a moveable support element 150 of another framework component 1 10 having its first edge abutting the second edge of the framework component 1 10 of Figures 1 to 3. In this embodiment, the engagement section 130 comprises two engagement section parts 130a, 130b with a front engagement section part 130a provided on the front face 125 of the frame 1 10 and a rear engagement section part 130b provided on the rear face 125' of the frame 1 10. Each engagement section part 130a, 130b is defined by the horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 121 ', 123, 123'. In the case of the front engagement section 130a, the engagement section comprises the part of the inwardly facing opposing faces 121 a, 123a of the horizontal elongate frame members121 , 123. Thus, the inwardly facing opposing faces 121 a, 123a of the horizontal elongate frame members 121 , 123 can be considered to be formed of two parts - bearing surfaces 121 a', 123a' at one end (adjacent the first end) and engagement surfaces 121 a", 123a" at the opposite end (adjacent the second end). The engagement surfaces 121 a", 123a" are sized so that another framework component with an identically sized moveable support element to that of this framework component 1 10 can connect to the frame 120. In particular, the engagement surfaces 121 a", 123a" are sized so as to contact the outwardly facing opposing support surfaces 151 a, 153a of each of the horizontal support members 151 , 151 ', 153, 153' of an adjacent framework component 1 10 so as to retain the adjacent framework component 1 10 in position adjacent the frame 120.

According, in use, the framework 1 10 can be provided as a single unit with the moveable support element 150 in a retracted position. From this position, the framework 1 10 can be moved into a position in which the first edge of the frame 120 abuts the second edge of the frame of an identical framework 1 10 with the frames aligned. As the first and second ends of the framework 1 10 correspond to one another (i.e. have complimentary profiles - in this case straight edges with the vertical members 122, 122' at the first end, the connecting members 126 at the first end and the ends of the horizontal frame members 121 , 121 , 123, 123' at the first end aligning with the corresponding members or parts of the members at the second end), the frame 120 will fit against the adjacent framework component 1 10 and the members defining the frames 120 of each of the framework components 1 10 will abut to provide support to one another. From this position, the moveable support element 150 can be moved (i.e. slid) relative to the frame 120 along the track defined by the horizontal frame members 121 , 121 ', 123, 123' along the axis defined between the horizontal frame members 121 , 121 ', 123, 123' to the extended position, shown in Figure 2, such that the horizontal support members 151 , 151 ', 153, 153' extend beyond the first edge and engage with an engagement section of the abutting framework component 1 10. The framework components 1 10 can thus be used to build a modular structure or framework 1 10 comprised of a number of the framework components 1 10. For example, Figure 4 shows a framework structure 100 comprised of three identical framework components 100, 1 10', 100" having the structured shown in Figures 1 to 3 and set out above. In this framework structure 100, there is a first framework component 1 10 on the left-hand side of the front view shown in Figure 4, which is located between second and third framework components 1 10', 1 10", with all of the framework components 1 10, 1 10', 1 10" aligned with one another and each comprising a moveable support element 150, 150', 150" and an engagement section 130, 130', 130". The first end of the first framework component 1 10 is in contact with (abuts) the second edge of the second framework component 1 10' and the second end of the first framework component 1 10 abuts the first end of the third framework component 1 10". In this way, the framework components 1 10, 1 10', 1 10" also have the additional advantage that the abutting of the ends of the framework components 1 10, 1 10', 1 10" provides additional contact points for supporting the weight of adjacent framework components 1 10, 1 10', 1 10" and for spreading the effect of any force applied to any of the framework components 1 10, 1 10', 1 10" across the other framework components 1 10, 1 10', 1 10".

In addition, in the assembled position of the framework structure 100, the moveable support elements 150, 150', 150" are in the extended position such that the moveable support element 150 of the first framework component 1 10 engages the engagement section 130' of the second framework component 1 10' to thereby connect and secure the first and second framework components 1 10, 1 10' to one another. Similarly, the moveable support element 150" of the third framework component 1 10" engages the engagement section 130 of the first framework component 1 10 so as to connected these framework components 1 10, 1 10' to one another. This arrangement provides a strong and structurally robust framework structure 100 using relative simple components and provides a framework structure 100 that can be easily assembled, disassembled, modified and built on with relative ease.

One significant advantage of embodiments of the invention, including the first embodiment described above, is that a framework component 1 10 can easily be inserted and removed from a framework structure, such as the framework structure 100. For example, removable of the first framework component 1 10 from the framework structure 100 simply requires the movement of the moveable support elements 150, 150" of the first framework component 1 10 and the third framework component 1 10" from their extended position to their retracted positions. This disconnects the first framework component 1 10 from the second and third framework components 1 10', 1 10" and, importantly, results in the footprint of the first framework component 1 10 being defined by the frame 120 only. This means that the footprint of the framework component 1 10 is reduced to the size of the space between the first and second framework components 1 10', 1 10". As a result, the framework component 1 10 can be removed from the region between the second and third framework components 1 10', 1 10" without difficulty and without requiring the other framework components 1 10', 1 10" to be moved or taken apart. Similarly, a new framework component can easily be added to the framework structure 100 with the first framework component 1 10 removed. Due to the footprint being defined by the frame size, the new framework component can be slid in to the framework structure 100 (e.g. .from the rear face, front face, above or below) by aligning the first and second ends of the new framework component with the second end of the second framework component 1 10' and the first edge of the third framework component 1 10".

A second embodiment of the invention is shown in Figures 5 and 6. The framework component 210 shown has a basic structure that is identical to the framework component 1 10 of Figures 1 to 3 in that it comprises a frame 220 formed of elongate horizontal frame members 221 , 221 ', 223, 223', elongate vertical frame members 222, 222', 224, 224' and connecting members 226 defining a front face 225 and a rear face 225', together with a moveable support element 250 and an engagement section 230 defined by inwardly facing directly opposing surfaces 221 a", 223a" of the horizontal frame members 221 , 221 ', 223, 223' (although not labelled these surfaces are present on the horizontal frame members 221 ', 223' defining the second face 225', as in the case of Figures 1 to 3).

In addition to the above, the framework component 210 of this embodiment further comprises a second moveable support element 260. As with the first moveable support element 250, the second moveable support element 260 comprises identical front and rear sections, which are interconnected by support connecting members 265. Moreover, the overall shape of the first and second moveable support elements 250, 260 is the same, with only the depth of the second moveable support element 250 being different, as will be explained below. In addition, as can be seen in Figures 5 and 6, the second moveable support element 260 is arranged perpendicular to the first moveable support element 250 on the frame 220. As such, for the sake of clarity, members referred to as being horizontal in respect of the first moveable support element 250 are referred to as being vertical in respect of the second moveable support element 260. In particular, the front section of the second moveable element 260 comprises a first vertical elongate support member 261 and a second vertical elongate support member 263. The first and second vertical support members 261 , 263 are spaced apart and run parallel to one another and are arranged so that each end of each vertical elongate support member 261 , 263 is aligned with one another. The vertical support members 261 , 263 are connected by a horizontal elongate support membe262 which extends perpendicular to the vertical support members 261 , 263 and connects the inwardly facing opposing surfaces of the vertical support members 261 , 263 at a point halfway along their length. This creates the ΐ shape (in this case, shown in Figures 5 and 6 in a position rotated by 270° about an axis extending perpendicular out of the centre of the front face 225). The rear section comprises the same structure with a first vertical elongate support member 261 ' and a second vertical elongate support member 263' spaced apart from one another, parallel to one another and interconnected by a horizontal support member 262' extending therebetween. The front and rear sections are interconnected to form a single moveable support element 260 by support connecting members 265 which extend between the first vertical support members 261 , 261 ' and the second vertical support members 263, 263' to fix the positions of the front and rear sections relative to one another.

The second moveable support element 260 is also connected to the frame 220 and is arranged perpendicular to the first moveable support element 250. The second moveable support element 260 is, however, narrower (i.e. its depth in the direction of the connecting members 226 of the frame 220) than the first moveable support element 250 by virtue of shorter support connecting members 265. This is so as to allow for a slightly different configuration on the frame 220 to allow free movement of both the first and second moveable support elements 250, 260 - i.e. without interference by one another, which otherwise could occur due to movement along intersecting axes. In particular, the front section (i.e. the face defined by the vertical support members 261 , 263 and the horizontal support member 262) of the second moveable support element 260 is provided in the same plane as and extending parallel to the vertical frame members 222, 224 of the frame 220. The second moveable support element 260 is sized so that outwardly facing surfaces 261 a, 263a of the vertical support members 261 , 263 are in contact with and bear against the vertical frame members 222, 224 of the frame 220 and, in particular, a part of inwardly facing directly opposing surfaces 222a, 224a of the vertical frame members 222, 224. Thus, the outwardly facing surface 261 a, 263a define first and second support surfaces 261 a, 263a and the lowermost part of the inwardly facing directly opposing surfaces 222a, 224a of the vertical frame members 222, 224 thereby define vertical bearing surfaces 222a', 224a' and define a guide or track for the movement of the second moveable support element 260 between retracted and extended positions, as will be set out in more detail below. The second section of the second moveable support element 260 is arranged in the same manner with vertical support members 261 ', 263' between vertical frame members 222', 224'. The support connecting members 265 extend through a cross-section (the depth) of the frame 220.

The second movable connecting element 260 can slide relative to the frame 220 from a "retracted position" (shown in Figure 4) in which the second moveable support element 260 does not extend beyond a third end of the frame 220 - i.e. the lowermost edge of the frame 220 defined by the plane in the horizontal frame members 223, 223' extend - and an "extended position" in which the vertical support members 261 , 261 ', 263, 263' all partially extend beyond the third end, as shown in Figure 6. It will be appreciated that the first moveable support element 250 is shown in an extended position in Figure 5, but this could also be in its corresponding retracted position, since the first and second moveable support elements 250, 260 each move along different, non-intersecting tracks and can move independently of one another. Similarly, although both first and second moveable support elements 250, 260 are shown in the extended position in Figure 6, it will be appreciated that the first moveable support element 250 could instead be in its retracted position.

As with the framework component 1 10 of Figures 1 to 3, the framework component 220 comprises an engagement section (shown generally as 230) adjacent the second end of the frame 220 for engaging a moveable support element 250 of another framework component 210 having its first edge abutting the second edge of the framework component 220. In this embodiment, the frame 220 further comprises a second engagement section 270 comprises two engagement section parts 270a, 270b with a front engagement section part 270a provided on the front face 225 of the frame 220 and a rear engagement section part 270b provided on the rear face 125' of the frame 220. Each engagement section part 270a, 270b is defined, in the second engagement section 270, by the vertical elongate frame members 222, 222', 224, 224'. In the case of the front engagement section 270a, the engagement section comprises the part of the inwardly facing opposing faces 222a, 224a of the vertical elongate frame members 222, 224. Thus, the inwardly facing opposing faces 222a, 224a of the vertical elongate frame members 222, 224 can be considered to be formed of two parts - bearing surfaces 222a', 224a' at one end (adjacent the third end) and engagement surfaces 222a", 224a" at the opposite end (adjacent the four end). The engagement surfaces 222a", 224a" are sized so that another framework component with an identically sized moveable support element to that of this framework component 210. In this way, the frame 220 can be inserted into a modular framework 200 with the first edge of the framework component 210 abutting the second end of a first identical framework component and the with the third end abutting a fourth end of a second identical framework component (i.e. the end opposite the third end) without interference from the first and second movable connecting elements 250, 260. Movement of the first and second moveable support elements 250, 260 into their respective extended positions allows the framework component 210 to be engaged with the first and second identical framework components to form a modular structure or framework 200.

A framework structure 200 is shown in Figures 7 and 8. The framework structure 200 in these figures is a portion of a wall comprised of a number of identical framework components 210, 210' together with cladding 290. In particular, the portion of the wall shown in Figures 7 and 8 is comprised of fifteen framework components 210 formed in three stacked rows of five aligned framework components 210. Each of the framework components 210 is engaged with all of the framework components 210 abutting its first, second, third and fourth ends by virtue of the first and second moveable support elements, 250, 260 and the first and second engagement sections 230, 270. This provides a very robust and secure framework, while also still providing a versatile structure.

For instance, taking the framework structure 200 as a grid, a framework component 210' is provided in the second row and second column (from the left hand side of the view provided in Figure 7) engages the framework component 210 adjacent its first end by virtue of its first moveable support element 250' being in the extended position so as to engage the first engagement section 230 of the adjacent framework component 210. Similarly, the framework component 210' engages the framework component 210 below it (i.e. adjacent its third end in this embodiment) by having the second moveable support element 260' in the extended position so that it engages the second engagement section 270 of the adjacent framework component 210. The framework component 210' is also engaged with the framework component 210 located above it and adjacent its fourth end by virtue of its second engagement section 270' receiving the second moveable support element 260 of the framework component 210 adjacent the fourth end. In this way, the framework component 210' is connected to four surrounding framework components 210, which secures it in place. Moreover, the framework component 210' serves as a support for the adjacent framework components 210 and is supported by the adjacent framework components 210. For example, if the framework component 210 adjacent the third edge of the framework component 210' was removed from the framework structure 200, the framework components 210 adjacent its second and first ends would serve to hold the framework component 210' in its current position by virtue of the engagement of the moveable support elements 250, 250' and the bearing of the frame members of each of the frames 220 against one another.

Moreover, as with the first embodiment, by providing a framework component 210' having a footprint which is defined by the size of the frame 220', with the first and second moveable support elements 250', 260' in the retracted or disengaged position, the framework component 210' can be slotted or positioned into a gap having the same size as the frame and formed between several identical framework components 210 without requiring any of the remainder of the framework structure to be modified. As shown in Figures 7 and 8, cladding 290 can be added to each framework component 210 to provide additional functionality to the framework structure - i.e. to make framework structure 200 insulated and waterproof. In this case, the cladding is a three-layered panel comprising an inner insulation core (not visible), which is covered on either side by an outer PVC weatherproofing layer 291 . The three layers are held together by four bolts 292 through the layers. The cladding panel 290 is approximately the same size as the front face 225, 225' of the frame 220, 220' of each framework component 210, 210' in the framework structure 200 such that one cladding panel 290 can be attached to each framework component 210. In this embodiment, the cladding 290 is attached to the frame members of each framework component 210 using clips (not shown). The use of the cladding 290 provides the advantage that the framework component can be manufactured from lower cost structural materials. In other words, the framework components can be formed of the purely structural members only and can thus provide the skeleton of the structure. This increases the versatility of the framework structure 200, since different cladding can be attached to each framework component 210 to provide different properties to the framework structure 200. Although in the above embodiments, the terms 'horizontal' and 'vertical' are used herein to provide an indication of position of components, members, elements, etc. relative to one another, these are not intended to limit the configuration or positioning of any component, member, element etc. and instead are provided to give an indication of relative position. Other variations to the disclosed embodiments can be understood and effected by those skilled in the art in practicing the claimed invention, from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the appended claims. For example: Although the frame shown in the above embodiment has a cuboidal shape, the frame can take the form of other shapes. For example, where the frame has a three-dimensional shape in that there are frame members defining multiple parallel planes, the frame may have the following shapes: triangular prism a pentagonal prism, a hexagonal prism, a heptagonal prism, an octagon prism or other such shapes (e.g. prisms with more sides). Where the frame has a two-dimensional shape (e.g. there is only one plane defined between the frame members and/or the edges of the frame), the frame can define shapes such as polygons, including triangles, square, rectangle, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, etc.) or it can define other shapes such an ΐ shape, where the edges may be defined between the ends of the horizontal members.. Although the moveable support element is shown as an ΐ shape, it can have any shape that allows it to engage with an adjacent engagement section and could, for example, be any polygon.