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.

Prefab Apartments for the Homeless

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The Y:Cube, a prefab modular block of apartments has just been completed in London. It will provide comfortable and affordable units for the city’s homeless. Being modular and prefabricated offsite, the constructions costs can be kept low, so the rent will be about 65 percent of the market rate for similar apartments. It was designed by architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and built for the international YMCA youth charity, who will also be in charge of renting it out to the homeless.

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The apartment complex is located in the Mitcham area, which is in southwest London. It consists of 36 one-bed studios, each measuring 280 sq ft (26 sq m). The entire complex is constructed using high quality and eco-efficient materials, like, for example, renewable timber. The buildings are also well-insulated, so very little or no heating will be needed in the winter.

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To keep the costs low and rents affordable, the necessary parts were all prefabricated in a factory and already had all the plumbing, electrical and heating infrastructure already built in upon transporting them to the building site. The prefab units can be stacked side-by-side or on top of each other to create the apartment buildings. Once this is done, all the utilities are connected.

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This building method is very efficient and speedy, making the Y:Cube process well adapted for quickly developing unused sites in urban areas. The buildings can also be easily dismantled and transported elsewhere should the area where they are located become unavailable.

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The units will be made available to the homeless referred to it by the London Borough of Merton, or those who were previous residents of the YMCA London South West. The YMCA is also planning on building more Y:Cube apartment blocks in London, and elsewhere in the UK in the near future.

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New Masonry Building Method Cuts Carbon Emissions

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The Russian design studio Zaarchitects have come up with a concept they call “smart masonry” techniques, which would involve using parametric tools and robot arms in the construction of concrete buildings. This method would require the use of less concrete for the construction of more lightweight, precise, efficient and less bulky buildings. If this method catches on, it could offset a good portion of the carbon emissions created by the building industry each year.

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The Smart Masonry process concept has at its core the creation of so-called “minimal surfaces” which would be precision built by having their structural loading requirements optimized by a computer. This would result in a mesh of complex, patterned geometries that would correspond to the loading pattern and which would reduce the mass of the walls. Furthermore, this process would reduce or even eliminate the need for beams and columns.

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In this process, the walls and other spatial elements would be made up of “cells” created out of pre-shaped, digitally-cut, rubber-based foam components. These would be dipped in cement and cured in a so-called “positive casting” process. All this would be prefabricated off-site and then these “readymade masonry units” would be transported to the building site, where the structure would be assembled one floor at a time by robotic arms. The use of the latter will also reduce the labor costs and time needed to construct a building as compared to traditional building methods, or even the now emerging 3D printing methods.

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On paper this sounds like a pretty promising building method, which could have a great positive impact on the environment. It’s still in the concept stage though, so it will be interesting to see the first prototype building constructed using this method, which will hopefully be the case soon.

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Super Sustainable LivingHomes Prefabs Taking Over California

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The company LivingHomes has launched their first sustainable, LEED platinum prefab home back in 2013. They have also partnered with the non-profit Make It Right organization and architect William McDonough with whom they have created the so-called C6 home, which is an affordable LEED Platinum certified home, which also meets the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star standard.

The company has also developed their own 6-point sustainable home standard, called the Z6 program, which, according to them, will serve to better showcase the C6 homes’ performance.

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The Z6 program can be used to measure how close each of the C6 homes gets to being zero energy, zero emissions, zero carbon, zero water, zero waste and “zero ignorance.” The homes graded using this standard get a percentage score based on all of these factors, while the overall score of 85 percent or above is considered acceptable.

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Prefab Home Suitable for Hurricane Prone Areas

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The prefab homebuilder Cubicco of Florida just released a new version of their flatpack homes, which the company claims are sturdy enough to withstand hurricane winds of up to 180 mph. Prefab flatpack homes are great since they can easily be transported to anywhere on the back of a truck, while the Cubicco homes go one step further in that they can be fitted with a number of sustainable technologies so the owner can potentially take them off-the-grid.

Among these optional upgrades are solar power harvesting technology and a rainwater collection system.

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The basic version of Cubicco’s offerings is the so-called 96-2b Home, which is a fully equipped dwelling and measures 685 square feet (63 square meters). It features a kitchen, dining area, an office, two bedrooms and a bathroom, so it is perfectly suitable for a small family to live in. There is also an option to add a covered porch, deck and ramp. This basic version can be expanded to form a larger home and the prices start at $115,300 for a fully built home. Customers can also opt to build the home themselves, in which case the unit costs $58,500.

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The homes are made from sustainably-sourced wood, and customers can also opt to fit them with green tech such as a green roof or a vertical garden. A rooftop mounted solar PV array is also a possible upgrade, which, coupled with a battery array, can take this home off-the-grid completely. The rainwater collection system consists of an underground tank into which rainwater is channeled via a gutter. Customers can also opt for geothermal heating, and air-conditioning. These homes are also suitable for flood prone areas, since they can easily be raised on stilts.

The roofs of a Cubicco home can withstand up to 10 feet of snow, while they homes also feature hurricane-impact resistant doors and windows, and are rated to be able to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

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