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.
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.
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.
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.
The recently unveiled Gapahuk cabin was designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta and the leisure home builder Rindalshytter. It can be equipped to operate completely independently of the grid, and comes in a prefabricated package, meaning it can be built virtually anywhere.
The Gapahuk is a single story structure and has 968 sq ft (90 sq m) of interior floorspace. The interior is well-laid out, with most of the space taken up by a large open plan living/dining area and kitchen. The home also features three bedrooms, a spacious bathroom with a shower and toilet, and another separate toilet. The home also features a large covered outdoor deck, and plenty of storage areas, both inside and out.
Judging from the renders, the finished home will feature ample glazing, while most of the interior and exterior surfaces will be clad in wood. While the basic version is intended to be hooked up to the grid, it would also be easy to install the necessary tech to take if off-grid. according to the firm, the cabin’s sloping roof is ideal for installing solar panels, while it also protects from both the sun and from high winds. The home is heated by a wood burning stove, while it would probably be relatively simple to install a composting toilet, and a couple of water tanks and a water filtration system. Since the home was designed in Norway, it is probably safe to assume it offers comfortable living conditions even in the harshest climates.
The Gapahuk is probably the closest thing you can get to a professionally designed, high-end prefab home at the moment, and as such also carries a hefty price tag. It costs roughly $156,600 (1350,000 NOK) which does not include construction, or any of the off-grid features.
Given the recent refugee crisis, it’s more important than ever to have affordable, practical and easy to construct disaster relief housing solutions available. The recently unveiled Duffy Shelter is all that and more. It was created by the firm Duffy London of London, UK, and they also manufacture them. The shelters are easy to construct and are shipped flatpacked, so 35 of them can be transported in one van.
The Duffy Shelter is basically a pod, which is raised off the ground. It measures 73 x 49 x 56 in (185 x 125 x 142 cm), and can easily accommodate two adults sleeping side by side. The shelter is comprised of two wooden walls, a wooden floor, a door, two crossing legs, and four feet. All of the wooden parts are manufactured using a CNC cutting machine, while the wood comes from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)-managed forests and other controlled sources. The additional components include windows, shutters, hinges, seals and screws. The shelter can be erected in less than an hour using only a screwdriver.
Since the shelter is raised off the ground, a lot of the cold and dampness is already eliminated, but it is also well insulated using fabric. The shelter’s primary use is as disaster relief housing, though it can also be used as a tent, or a guesthouse. It’s possible to apply different kinds of finishes to the exterior, depending on their purpose. It can also be placed atop a trailer and towed by a car.
Duffy London is currently accepting large orders from companies and charities, though there is a 12- to 16-week lead-time. They plan to start accepting single unit orders from the general public in early to mid 2017. Pricing will also be announced at that time, while pricing for bulk orders is currently available on request.
Cities across the world are battling overpopulation, while rents skyrocket. But the Chinese People’s Architecture Office (PAO) has come up with an ingenious solution to this problem. They have recently unveiled a home intended for first time homeowners, which is very affordable and easy to assemble.
The so-called Plugin House is made using PAO’s patented prefabricated panel system, and it can assembled by a small team of people in only a couple of hours. In fact, PAO claims that even people with no prior construction experience can build this home in just 24 hours using only a hex key.
While the Plugin House is intended as a full featured home on its own, it can also be used to expand an existing home. The Plugin House pictured here was built for Mrs. Fan, a young woman who wished to move out of her parent’s home and into their old courtyard house. But because the latter was very cramped and dark, she opted to attach a Plugin House to it to make it bigger and more suitable to live in.
The home measures 299 sq ft (27.8 sq m) and features a lounge, kitchen, and bathroom. Mrs. Fan’s home is also fitted with a shower and a composting toilet. It also features ample glazing, which lets in plenty of natural daylight and makes the interior appear larger than it is.
The modules the home is made of are prefabricated off site, and already come with all the necessary insulation, as well as the interior and exterior finish. All the wiring and plumbing spaces are located in one molded part of the modules. To construct a Plugin House, these modules are simply attached one to another via the integrated locking system, which must be tightened using a hex key.
Mrs. Fan’s Plugin House cost only $10,000 to construct.