It was a 2015 trip to London and Cornwall that made Amy Plank and Richard Vaughan, designers at modular home company Modhouse, rethink the idea of home. "We realized that if we minimized our belongings and made peace with living in a smaller space, we’d have more freedom," recalls Amy. "We wouldn’t be tied down by domestic duties and could enjoy surfing, gardening, and just being in nature."
With these goals in mind, Amy and Richard set out to design a compact, sustainable, and cost-effective home on five acres of farmland in South Gippsland, Victoria, owned by her parents—Modhouse founders Mark and Melissa Plank.
Comprising three 20-foot shipping containers, the roughly 530-square-foot residence is connected by passageways that also hold the laundry area and extra storage space. Interlocking Colorbond cladding covers the exteriors while silvertop ash surrounds windows and doors. "We wanted it to look more grounded and refined, and less rustic, which is something you often see with container conversions," says Amy.
The additional siding adds thermal efficiency for the 7.1-star energy-rated home. There are three layers of insulation between the Colorbond cladding and the container walls, three layers between that and the interior walls, and two more layers in the floor and ceiling.
A rainwater harvesting system allows the couple to collect water in large tanks connected to the rear of the home, while solar panels on the roof feed back to the main grid.
Amy and Richard chose low-impact materials like FSC-certified, zero-formaldehyde timber and natural sealer on the walls and floors. "We used local tradespeople and supplies to support the local economy and lower our carbon footprint," Amy adds. "And to reduce waste, we built in material-size increments."
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The couple also wanted the home to blend in with the environment, choosing a gray hue for the exterior that "would sink into the surrounding bush," says Amy. Within, Ecoply plywood walls and ceilings and Tasmanian oak flooring lend warmth and texture that contrast with the sleek cladding outside.
Now, the one-bedroom, one-bath home is currently for sale, able to be transported and rebuilt on the new owner’s site.
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