These Prefab Tiny Homes Can Be Linked to Create Entire Apartment Complexes
The ways we live and work have changed dramatically in the last few years, to say the least. With unprecedented numbers either working from home or remotely, and real estate prices soaring, the team at French design firm Cutwork wanted to know: "How can we design a habitat that addresses the need to do more in less space?"
Their answer is PolyRoom, a roughly 280-square-foot prefab module featuring interiors that can be reconfigured throughout the day to accommodate various activities—eating, sleeping, working, or socializing, for example.
"This design takes direct inspiration from a Japanese washitsu," says Cutwork cofounder and architect Antonin Yuji Maeno, who’s half-French, half-Japanese. A washitsu, or tatami room, is a central room in traditional Japanese homes that serves as an adaptive space.
Similar to LEGO bricks, the modules are designed to be stacked (a block of units wouldn’t require additional support, says Cutwork), making them suitable for a variety of implementations.
Cutwork has partnered with real estate developer Bouygues Immobilier to realise the project, and Bouygues Immobilier plans to open up to 15 sites by 2025, providing 2,500 bedrooms. A first site for the full modular construction is in early discussions and planning.
Cutwork was initially drawn to prefab construction because they saw its potential to cut down on costs and build times while improving the overall quality of a design. But at the same time that prefab has made it easier to complete projects like the one in Bordeaux, for firm cofounder Maeno, the technology comes with a greater responsibility.
"We need to meet this incredible demand for housing," he says. "But what does that mean for our natural resources and local ecosystems? How can we rethink urbanization to not only help preserve local ecology, but enable us to activate biodiversity and help establish thriving, multispecies habitats, even in dense urban areas?"
To address those concerns at least in one small part, Cutwork designed PolyRoom to accommodate plantings on its balcony, facade, and rooftop, and the balcony will even feature a built-in birdhouse.
Despite its small size, PolyRoom feels generous thanks to the large glazed window at the front of the unit and modular furniture. The bed, which typically takes up the most room in a studio apartment, has been designed to lift up and nest in the ceiling, opening up space below.
The kitchen area features plenty of concealed storage, and a generous kitchen sink is hidden beneath a fold-down section of the bench. There is also built-in storage, bookshelves, and cubby holes throughout the studio.
Cutwork anticipates providing a variety of finishes and fixtures to appeal to residents’ varying tastes.
Ahead of the 2023 co-living launch in Bordeaux, a prototype of PolyRoom has been installed at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, and visitors can view the concept until February 2022.
"Three types of people have been visiting," says Maeno, "real estate professionals, architects and designers, and the general public—and everyone has been very excited. It’s becoming clear that there's more potential here than we had ever anticipated."
More from Cutwork:
These Just Add Water Homes Can Be Built in Less Than 24 Hours
Architect of Record: Cutwork / @cutwork
Developer: Bouygues Immobilier / @bouygues_immo
Builder: DMD Modular / @dmdmodular
Photographer: Pierre Châtel-Innocenti / @chatelp
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