Proposed Paris Building Renovation is Really Out There

French architect Stéphane Malka has a very interesting proposal for how to renovate an old apartment building in Paris. Plug-in City 75, as the project is named, calls for attaching a series of wooden boxes to the building’s façade, which will have the dual function of increasing the interior space of the apartments, as well as make the structure more energy efficient.

Malka came up with this idea because the local building codes do not allow for extending buildings upward, but extending them outward is allowed. He has already designed the wooden boxes to be used for this purpose. They vary in size and are all prefabricated off-site. The building that is to get this interesting facelift is located in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, and was build in the 1970s.

The prefab boxes to be used will be lightweight, and built using sustainably-sourced wood. Plans call for them to be mounted onto the building’s facade. The occupants of the building will be able to decide what they want to use the added space for, such as a lounge, balcony or a loggia. The renovated building will also have a green façade, thanks to the greenery planted along the boxes.

According to Malka’s calculations, these new additions to the façade will reduce the building’s energy expenditure from the current 190 kWh per sq m (10.8 sq ft) per year to 45 kWh per m2 (10.8 sq ft) per year. That’s quite a reduction, and it will be interesting to see if these numbers are achieved in practice. The Plug-in City 75 project will be completed mid-2018.

Overall, this is a great example of an old building renovation done right. This project will boost energy efficiency and create larger living spaces in one go, which should be the goal of urban renovation projects worldwide, if we are to successfully reduce our carbon and energy footprint.

Unfolding Home

Building a home takes time, even if you opt for a pre-fab option. But with the newest offering by the UK firm Ten Fold Engineering all you have to do is press a button and your home is built within ten minutes. How futuristic is that? Not to mention awesome. Ten Fold Engineering offers a range of such modular, self-deploying structures which can be erected without needing builders, cranes or foundations.

The core of these unfolding homes can be transported anywhere on the back of a standard truck. Once on-site, the unit unfolds to three times the size it was for transport. It also already features all necessary fixtures, and is ready to live in right away. The whole process is also reversible so that the home can easily be moved to a new location.

As for the interior layout, each unit offers the ability to set it up according to your needs and wishes. This is done with the help of folding partitions, which can be used to freely design the number and size of rooms one wants. Each of the units can also be fitted with a range of modular pods which make it possible to install off-grid power systems, water-filtration systems, and more.

The units can also be scaled up by interlinking them in a number of combinations to create larger homes or even hotels. In addition, the company has also created a number of customized fold-out units. One of these is the so-called “Tree House” which is a cube that opens into a winged, floating tree house. The “Moot Hall” on the other hand, looks like a giant A-frame tent.

At this time, many of the designs are still in the concept stage, while the company perfects their unfolding technology. They are looking for architects, engineers and manufacturers interested in using the technology in exchange for a license fee.

The core unit seems to be close to production, and they estimate that the starting price of one of these units will be about $130,000. The company is hopeful that the production costs will eventually decrease, driving the price down as well, so that the units can also be used as affordable housing or disaster relief housing.

A Wonderful Prefab Tiny Home

There are many ways you can obtain a tiny home if you are looking to downsize. You can either commission a firm for a custom-built one, purchase an already constructed one, or build it yourself, whether from scratch or inside a repurposed shipping container, for example. There have been some awesome school bus and van conversions seen lately too. There are also prefab tiny homes, and a great addition to the already existing lineup is the so-called ARK Shelter, which was designed and built by a Holland-based company.

ARK Shelters actually range in size from tiny to normal sized homes, since the modules out of which they are constructed can be assembled together to form larger dwellings. The modules also come in various sizes, with the largest one measuring 300 sq ft (28 sq m). The exterior is clad in wood and painted black, which gives the home a timeless, classic aesthetic. The interior walls are paneled with cross-laminated timber plates that give the home a cozy, warm feel.

The modules also feature large, floor-to-ceiling windows, which let in plenty of natural daylight, aiding ventilation and making the home appear much more spacious when opting for the smallest module. All the windows also have shutters to provide the needed privacy. The modules feature a well-sized kitchen and bathroom, while different layouts and configurations are also possible.

The ARK shelter is also very well insulated and a circular woodstove is used for heating. There is also the option of having additional electrical heating, which can be powered by wind turbines or a solar panel array. The firm also offers the option of installing a rooftop rainwater collection and filtration system. The modules do not require any sort of foundations, so they can be placed virtually anywhere.

The ARK Shelters come fitted with all the custom-designed furniture, the woodstove and a mattress. Given all the features, one would expect the price to be high, but they are selling the basic model for $59,000, which is comparable to most of the other offerings on the market today.

Tiny House Made of CNC-cut Panels

The tiny house movement has come a long way these last couple of years, which has led to many innovative approaches to constructing these sustainable dwellings. The tiny house firm Extraordinary Structures of Santa Fe, NM is one of those companies that has been pushing the envelope in finding new and innovative ways of building these structures. Their latest offering, the so-called SaltBox was constructed with the help of digital fabrication.

The SaltBox rests atop a 24-foot-long trailer and measures 200 sq ft (18.6 sq m). It was constructed using a rapid-assembly system, which the firm has developed. This method of construction utilizes CNC-cut materials and a panelized system of SIPs which greatly shorten the time it takes to build this tiny home. An envelope made of permeable house wrap and a thermal wrap of mineral wool board makes up the first layer of the home. Next is the metal exoskeleton made out of 22-gauge steel, which serves the purpose of acting as a rain shield. The roofline of the SaltBox is asymmetrical, and this shape was inspired by the traditional New England saltbox-type roof. It was also chosen because it makes it easier to install solar panels.

The interior was kept quite open and minimalist. They left the panels and joints exposed, which gives it a very modern aesthetic. To save space they’ve also installed built-in storage cabinets, and a Murphy bed that can be folded up and thus moved out of the way during the day. When lowered, a couple of ottomans provide support for it.

The kitchen and bathroom share a wall, so that they could reduce the number of plumbing lines that needed to be installed. The kitchen is fitted with a large sink, a two-burner induction cooktop, a fume hood and a small smart drawer refrigerator. The bathroom features a Japanese-style ofuro tub, which was handmade out of cedar. The home also features a composting toilet. Over the bathroom is a small loft, which can either be used as a reading nook, or a guest bedroom. The home is heated using a high-efficiency gasifier woodstove, which takes up very little room.

The fully fitted version of this home sold for $82,500, while the company also offers a stripped down, basic version for $50,000.

Interesting Shelter for Finland’s Downtrodden

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Providing adequate housing for those who can’t afford it should be a priority for all governments, and Finland has come up with an interesting solution to achieve this. A group of students was tasked with creating a prototype home, which could be used to house the homeless, students, refugees and all others who need a place to call home, even if just temporarily. The house they designed is called Kokoon and it is a prefab home that can be assembled in a single day.

Kokoon is built using just three prefabricated modules, which are very similar n size and weight and can be stacked one on top of the other using a crane. The modules are then secured into place and the final step in the construction involves adding a layer of sealant. The exterior cladding is made of spruce, while the frame and all the fixed interior furnishings are made of laminated veneer lumber (LVL). The interior is clad in natural wood, which gives the home a simple and clean aesthetic.

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The interior floorspace measures 376 sq ft (35 sq m) and is divided up into a kitchen, dining area, bathroom, and bedroom. The separation of the living space occurs over three floors, so the occupants are also afforded some privacy should they desire it. Stairs connect the three floors and large skylights let in plenty of natural daylight. The home is insulated using cellulose fiber insulation, while it also features floor heating. There is also a hot water heater and the home gets its water and electricity from the grid.

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sleeping

Kokoon was designed by the so-called Wood Program Studio at Aalto University School of Arts Design and Architecture, and is intended to be used for up to one year while the occupants search for a more permanent housing solution. At this time this is only a student project, and therefore still in the concept stage, though it looks like a very promising affordable housing solution. The prototype is currently on display at the Museum of Finnish Architecture where it can be viewed for free.