Architectural designer Alexis Dornier of Stilt Studios prefers compact homes that tread lightly on the landscape. "I’m overwhelmed by how little one actually needs," he says. "The less you have, the less you have to worry about." Inspired by the idea of living only with what’s essential, Dornier devised Tetra Pod, a 688-square-foot prefabricated home made from recycled Tetra Pak cartons in Uluwatu, Bali.
According to Dornier, efficiency, affordability, and sustainability go hand in hand. "I love the idea of making houses more affordable to the greater audience," he says. "In addition to keeping costs low, a prefabricated structure is practical because it can be set up or dismantled in a short amount of time."
That practicality is imperative in Indonesia, where the terrain is difficult and many buildings are demolished not long after they’re constructed due to short-term property leases. "In order to bring sustainable development to remote areas and boost the local economy, we need knock-down structures that can be fabricated off-site and built quickly," says Dornier, who cofounded Bali-based Stilt Studios with Florian Holm, the firm’s CEO.
The Tetra Pod took just eight weeks to construct, and it can be swiftly taken down, allowing for maximum agility in Bali’s rapidly changing property market. Stilts lift the compact house 40 centimeters off the ground. "Many developments in Bali use large quantities of concrete, which destroys the natural environment," Dornier says. "I wanted to challenge the status quo and create architecture that leaves behind a minimal footprint."
By eliminating concrete and using recycled Tetra Pak cartons as a building material—along with wood, steel, and glass—Dornier’s sought to follow the principles of a circular economy. "Tetra Pak is reused, so it helps to reduce waste," he says.
The home also features large roof overhangs that help reduce solar heat gain, solar panels, a rainwater collection system, and a passive cooling system. "I also envisioned being able to grow food beneath the elevated structures," Dornier says.
Inside, the Tetra Pod features an open plan that accommodates a bedroom, a living area, a dining space, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Dornier designed furniture pieces made with teak veneer—including a bed, a built-in dining table and bench, a living-room sofa, and a coffee table—to suit each of the rooms. Large sliding-glass doors and expanses of glazed cladding wrap the bedroom and living areas in lush greenery.
The Tetra Pod is designed to be built for about $45K on almost any lot in any country, and Dornier is offering detailed plans (complete with five drawings) at a special price of $5,000 per set. "These drawings contain all required materials with sizes and finishes; structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing details; interior drawings; and a detailed step-by-step explanation of how to build Tetra Pod," he says.
The Tetra Pod Dornier built in Bali is a prototype that’s currently available to rent for short-term stays. "The prototype is part of a development that’s a place for experimentation and ongoing creative expression," says Dornier, who plans to eventually turn the development into a resort. "Our design studio is placed in one of our studios, submerged into the thick and lush surroundings."
Stilt Studio’s long-term goal is to make each and every one of their sustainable designs available for purchase. "We want design lovers around the world to be able to build their favorite studio or home without paying a star architect’s design fee," Dornier says. "Especially in times like COVID-19, people are looking for alternative living spaces. Tetra Pod can be used as a workspace or yoga pavilion in a garden, as multiple units for a hotel or resort, or as a tiny home."
To inquire about booking a stay in Tetra Pod or another of the firm’s designs, visit Stilt Studios.
Construction and Structural Engineer: Sasmitha Isti Konstruksi
Civil Engineer: Ragam Sarana Teknik
Landscape Design: Anton Clark
Cabinetry Design: Taru Lestari
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