In 2017, Australian architect Adriano Pupilli designed IMBY ("In My Back Yard") as a building system that would provide flexibility, ease of construction, and affordability for small residential structures such as a backyard pavilion or guest house. Pupilli’s design sought to bring good, sustainable design to the wider public through the development and creation of a sustainable modular building kit.
The goals for IMBY were multi-faceted: it needed to have minimal impact to existing plant and wildlife, be fabricated from renewable materials, and be assembled, disassembled, and stored flat as the owners might need. Flexibility and simplicity were key for quick and easy construction that could potentially be done by the owners themselves, and equally important was good architectural design that incorporated high-quality materials and natural light.
Pupilli’s solution is a modular series of wood-frame arches that form the ribs, or structural bays, of the module. Lightweight and portable even to sites with challenging access, the prefabricated framing arrives flat-packed and can be disassembled and relocated as necessary. Assembly is completed with interlocking timber joints, so specialized construction equipment isn’t necessary.
IMBYs are designed almost entirely with FSC-certified plantation timbers and quality plywood, such as Ecoply, that complies with building codes and standards. The structures typically feature plywood parts and acrylic windows, plywood flooring, birch lining, a skylight at the peak of the symmetrical gabled roof, and a choice of Colorbond steel or Western Red cedar as exterior cladding.
The structure can extend out by adding additional bays, making IMBYs perfect for everything from backyard storage sheds that can be as small as two bays deep to a whole studio at 12 bays deep.
Even with this broad range of uses, prices remain affordable: a two-bay kit at 6-and-a-half feet long, nine feet wide, and nearly ten feet high costs $6,390 AU (about $4,400 USD) for the Frame and Features package, which includes the precision-machined plywood parts and acrylic windows. Off-the-shelf components, such as cladding insulation and alternative finishes, can be purchased, too.
Pricing for an 11-bay IMBY that is about 25 feet long and suitable for guest rooms and studio-type homes starts at $16,770 AU (about $11,500 USD). Additional elements such as different types of furniture and windows are also available as add-ons.
While not available at the moment in the United States, three IMBY houses— used as everything from a beachside home office to an urban play space—have already been erected in New South Wales, Australia, with more to follow.