A Goodie Bag of Little-but-Loved Home Ideas

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Rocking Prefab Around the World

It’s not just Box™ that is a fan of off-site construction – design practices around the world are seeking out ways to build more efficiently, with results that are of consistent quality and more eco-friendly with less material waste. Globally, prefabrication is getting the big tick.

Here’s a goodie bag of little-but-loved home ideas we admire:


With just $10,000 worth of materials and an Allen key, a construction team has built the world’s first ‘Plug-in House’ in less than 24 hours. The tiny Beijing home, designed by People’s Architecture Office, is made up of prefabricated panels that can be flat-packed and shipped to site. The prototype was designed for a woman and her son who was living in a shanty in her parents’ back yard. With plenty of windows, it’s a light-filled home that even has a roof-deck and made the shortlist for the 2017 World Architecture Festival awards.


A modular system inspired by concrete drainage pipes? That’s how Portuguese architect Samuel Goncalves introduced his housing solution to the world at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Pre-made segmented forms used in public infrastructure projects can be reinterpreted as the structural building blocks of homes. The ide a quick solution to the country’s housing crisis. Prototypes have already been built, glazed then clad in timber. Once the fully kitted out modules are on site, they can be finished in three days.


Shipping containers are still making the earth move for eco-friendly home designers. According to someone who has spent a fair bit of time thinking about it, there are around 14 million ex service containers in the world. That’s a lot of housing potential! The eHab house on a tiny lakeside site in Seattle was designed by E.Cobb Architects. As its main structure, it uses a container which was craned onto the section and then perched on a breezeblock base. The site was too small and inaccessible for regular construction methods so using a container was an eco-smart solution.


From granny flats to sleep out additions to small-but-perfectly formed pods in remote locations, the Ecoshelta building system has many applications. Developed by architect and builder Stephen Sainsbury, who started out making Japanese joined timber framed pavilions but has, some 30 years later, settled on marine-grade aluminium framing filled with SIPS (structural insulated panels) for the roof floor and walls. If you’re handy with a hammer, the buildings can be assembled “in a matter of days” and they’re also ‘demountable’ if you change your mind or want to move on!


Trust the Danes to envisage a prefabricated home so dreamy you could sell your soul to own one! Unusually for a Scandinavian product, there’s not a stick of timber in sight in the VIPP Shelter. Instead it features all-steel construction and a glass roof so you can gaze at the stars. VIPP is a third-generation, family owned business that started off making designer wastebins. Their minimalist ‘shelter’ is over two levels and comes fully furnished with other VIPP products. It’s black, it’s beautiful – and billed as a “battery charging station for humans”.

Box™ is a team of designers and builders in Auckland. If you’d like to chat about your next project, email us or give us a call on 09 520 5030.