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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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.

Luxury Prefab Off-The-Grid Cabin

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.