Creators of the Carbon Positive House, ArchiBlox, are pushing prefab into the retail space with a sustainable timber pop-up ice cream shop, House of Häagen-Dazs.
Called the POD, it is currently located in Melbourne’s Federation Square, with plans for it to be relocated to The Rocks in Sydney later this month. It took 10 weeks to create from initial design and construction through to being installed on-site.
The POD is constructed of materials including carbon neutral timber cladding on the exterior, plywood interiors including seating and the ceiling, and recycled blackbutt timber planter boxes. Currently the POD operates on grid power, but it is possible to power it with solar photovoltaics.
The building has been designed to be removed without leaving a trace, said Archiblox director Bill McCorkell.
He said prefabrication offered numerous advantages, including sustainability wins.
“Sustainability starts on the longevity of the materials, their life cycle and their credentials from a sustainable point of view,” Mr McCorkell said.
“Prefab’s not all about square boxes and conformity towards transport regulations and rules. Prefab is as flexible as your own imagination.”
The design and build practice has its own modular building prefabrication facility at Wonthaggi.
Mr McCorkell said one of the major advantages of modular prefab was the control owners have over the “notorious twin building variables” of time and cost.
It removes the risk, he said.
“Most [conventional] projects run over time and over budget. The big reduction, though, lies in the soft or holding costs, such as rent and financing. For instance, homeowners only need to find alternative accommodation for a significantly shorter, pre-defined period – several weeks instead of months.
“This means far less outlay – upwards of $30,000 – to say nothing of the decreased disruption. If you need to borrow money, it is also for a much shorter period. Plus, homeowners in states such as Western Australia and NSW – which have high buildings costs – are finding it’s cheaper or comparably priced to truck better-quality prefab houses in from Victoria.”
He said the company was currently designing and building between 30 and 40 homes a year, including urban homes in Victoria and projects in New South Wales as far north as Byron Bay.
All their clients are encouraged to opt into as many sustainability options as possible, he said. These include passive solar heating, passive cooling, natural ventilation, efficient appliances and sustainable material specifications.
Since the Carbon Positive House received major coverage, he said there have been people contacting the company asking to buy that type of dwelling. One is currently in progress for a site in Brunswick, for example.
“People are excited about what the product means,” he said.
It’s a house people interact with, he said. It can be opened up, the plants that are a key element encourage engagement and movement, for one thing, they need to be watered.
“It’s about people becoming one with their houses,” he said.
- See our Carbon Positive House case study
Mr McCorkell said that the company is combating a shortage in the Australian market of architecturally designed sustainable dwellings.
“The market is definitely here to stay and will only grow in the coming years. Change will be continual with new manufacturing opportunities, supply chains realisations and market acceptance for repeatable products,” he said.
“I would love to see completely sustainable communities enriching their occupants’ lives and living in prefabricated solutions”.
He said the prefab sector currently contributed $4.6 billion to national GDP, but the sector was expected to grow at more than five per cent per annum until 2023.