Prefab design has had its ups and downs over the last year or so, but a challenged housing market hasn't stopped creative designers from forging ahead with prefab and modular concepts. From New Zealand comes a steel-framed cocoon on the back of a truck that morphs into a self-sufficient, ruggedly humble Habode--in less than two days.
This bach--that's New Zealander for 'cabin'--was designed for extreme conditions of Australasia, including severe heat, winds, and torrential downpours. Built with strong Cor-Ten steel in lieu of galvanized mild steel, it is not a temporary structure by any means—the Habode was even rated for a grade 5 storm (cyclone) by New Zealand engineers.
Like other prefab homes, the Habode boasts dramatic reductions in both building costs and waiting times. Manufactured by International Housing Solutions, it uses a patented 'fold-out' system that packages a home, ships it, and can be positioned on its 20-timber-pile foundation within eight hours. Its customizable features include extra decking, sunshades, roof racks, a chimney flu, solar water heating, and a wind turbine.
At only 80 square meters, the Habode loudly touts its environmentally sustainable bells and whistles: a water-saving cistern, double glazed windows, low-energy fluorescent lights, and I am guessing that its distinctive wing-roof shape helps to capture rainwater runoff. Its copious use of steel makes for a rather heavy skeleton, but all of it can be recycled—the Cor-Ten steel weathers to a rust-color finish and can be melted. However, being based in New Zealand, shipping the Habode to anywhere else in the world will probably leave behind a significant carbon footprint.
Regardless, the Habode seems like a viable solution for certain climates, as well as an interesting variation on the classic shipping container house. In the words of designer Rod Gibson, "Habode arrives as one container and the Habode is the container. Habode is to buildings what a Mack truck is to Optimus Prime in the Transformers movie."