Prefabricated building technology has come a long way since the low quality, mass produced, repetitive designs of bygone eras. Today, prefab is all about quality, predictable costs and the experimentation of new materials and construction methods.
In parts of Europe, prefabricated construction accounts for up to 80% of all new housing built and we often look to the continent for design inspiration, especially their compact prefab house designs.
Here are four impressive compact prefab house concepts from across Europe that inspire us (plus one Aussie prefabricated house design we absolutely love):
Spain – Casa Transportable APH80
Spanish architecture studio Ábaton has developed a micro-home that can be entirely transported on the back of a truck to its location. The prefabricated home is clad from floor to ceiling in cement-sheet panels, creating a uniform exterior. A selection of these panels in the front and side of the home hinge open to expose sliding glass doors and invite the light in.
Situated under a gable roof with a peak of 3.5m, the central living area and kitchen hosts a bathroom and bedroom on both sides and all are lined with white stained Spanish fir wood. It’s Spanish simplicity at its finest.
Portugal – MIMA Light
Across the border are Portugeuse prefab design specialists MIMA and their MIMA Light home. Inspired by the minimalist sculpture of artists Donald Judd, John McCracken and Robert Morris, MIMA Light appears to levitate above the ground thanks to mirrors lining the foundations. The aluminium cladding has also been chosen for its thin sculptural form.
Inside, the walls are uniformly lined in pine to compliment and contrast the elegant, minimalist exterior. Each prefabricated home contains a cooking and living space, bedroom and bathroom, all featuring high quality fittings.
The glass panels have been designed and positioned to encourage both light and air circulation, while electricity is housed in the central core wall.
The company proudly states that the end product is “a very seducing home” and we have to agree – we’re seduced.
Estonia – ÖÖD house
Taking mirrored glass cladding to the next level are the Estonians. ÖÖD is a stunning compact prefab house that meticulously blends the need for privacy and maximised views.
The founders of ÖÖD, brothers Andreas and Jaak Tiik, were inspired initially to create a hotel concept with a stylish and bold design. Each module offers a different interior layout but a uniform appearance to gradually and seamlessly increase accommodation according to business need and demand.
Built primarily from steel, insulated glass and thermally treated wood, each ÖÖD home features a studio layout with a large custom-made bed, kitchenette, living area, and bathroom – perfect for accommodation or weekend escape.
Its compact 18sqm footprint allows for easy installation anywhere in Estonia without the need for a building permit.
Denmark – one+
one+ is a housing concept by Danish company, add-a-room. The owners started the company with the aim of creating a small prefab home that can be enjoyed for many years to come without the need to spend excessive time renovating – simply described as compact smart living. To achieve their aim, they approached one of Denmark’s renowned architects, Lars Frank Nielsen.
According to Nielsen: “The project started as a refinement of the mini house concept in Sweden. We wanted to provide a design alternative to the existing mini houses in Sweden called Friggebod that mostly look like play houses for children. Our goal was to design a simple, almost minimalistic house – a house that can stand alone, but also a house that can be pieced together unit by unit. During the design process, there has been an evolution towards a true “multi-unit-concept”: you can start with a single unit and enlarge it step by step into a genuine holiday home.”
The prefab designs all utilize sustainable materials from Scandinavia, feature energy efficient windows and doors, and are all built off site and assembled on location.
For the luxurious types, there is also the option of the Sauna House. The sauna module is 10 sqm and can be stand alone or connect to other ONE+ modules. Featuring two doors and two decks, the back veranda has been designed to be a private escape for taking a swim or an outdoor shower. Another alternative offered to clients is to mount the Sauna House on pontoons and use it as a sauna raft. So many relaxation possibilities to choose from – what a great problem to have.
Australia – Modscape’s Tintaldra
It’s not just Europe that are perfecting the art of compact smart living. We’re clearly biased, but design critics agree that Modscape’s Tintaldra project, situated on a vast property on the banks of the Murray River, showcases the benefits of being small, smart and self-sufficient in a stunningly secluded landscape.
When viewed from the road the cabin recedes into the landscape, appearing as a small silhouette against the snowy mountains on the horizon.
A bank of solar panels generates the home’s energy, creating more than enough for the efficient home to run comfortably. Water is drawn from the Murray River via a solar pump to supply the home’s water, while a septic tank deals with wastewater on-site.
As a stark contrast, the interior floorplan is crisp white with clean lines and contemporary fittings and fixtures. The environment continues to be referenced in punctuations of timber flooring, decking, and a wood fire heater that invites the outdoors in.
Minimalistic in layout, the cabin provides all the amenities needed for living including a master bedroom, bathroom and modest open plan kitchen/living/dining area, while solar panels, a septic tank and a rainwater tank ensures year-round services and minimal environmental impact.
Last year, realestate.com.au shot a video on the project featuring our client, Ian Cesa, and our managing director, Jan Gyrn, discussing the thought process behind the prefab design. If you missed it, sit back and enjoy 2.27 minutes stunning scenery and beautiful sustainable house design.