Prefab Houses Built in 3 Days by JB Villan, Sweden


RhOME Prefab House - Simple, Durable and Sustainable

Architectural Concept
Engineering and Construction
Project participants

Rhome (A Home for Rome) is a part of a program of the city planning to regenerate the neighborhood of the Tor Fiscale, replacing in particular illegal settlements with efficient and ecological prefab housing. On these recovered spaces a small communities with neat aesthetics must set up. The ground floor consists of a reinforced concrete seating on which rest the four floors in wood frame, for a total of 12 apartments. These are distributed around a central column housing the technical services for kitchens, bathrooms, ventilation, etc. The peculiarity of Rhome is to integrate solar panels on the roof and in facade. Photovoltaic modules are also integrated into removable details of the main windows. The design team presented in Versailles a prefab house (one apartment of 60 sqm) which representes a part of the last level of the building.

Photovoltaic modules covers a continuous strip from the slope of the roof to the foot of the facade, on the south facade of the prototype. The chosen technology is Solbian's flexible monocrystalline modules because of their light weight and good resistance to hostile conditions (salt water, shocks, etc.). The photovoltaic facade panel can be raised by 15° to be placed in the extension of the roof modules, in order to increase the productivity of the system.

The new urban standard

The world is called to solve the challenge of the balance between development and resource consumption, and this change is entrusted to the city, which must be able to change the way they manage population growth, energy use and administration of the territory. Lately, news reports have highlighted the critical issues related to the city that governs itself through methodologies related to a society that is no longer there. New technologies, the different way of living social relations, new utilities, require a new way of enjoying the city and its spaces.

Historically, social changes were associated with a crisis of the cities, which had to change their way of being planned and lived, in order to solve the problems. Currently many such solutions have been proposed and implemented among difficulties and successes, but they need to be empowered in order to ensure that the planning and direction of the future towns are based on these values. The RhOME project accepts the challenge and takes the opportunity to define and propose new planning standards, adapted to the needs of a modern, multi-ethnic and different society.

For example, the current legislation ensures that 18 square meters per person will be dedicated to urban standards; 2.5 square meters of these are for parking. To encourage mobility slow this standard is too high and also exacerbates the problems of overbuilding. The process then starts from reviewing the current data to which add new features, like the ability for everyone to have an internet connection, to have clean energy and to re-use what it produces and consumes. Currently we are focusing on quantifying those standards.

RE-USE – Why “One thing leads to another”

The smart city is facing an environmental and economic sustainable reform of production processes and resource management, in an environmental and economic direction. This revolution feeds on concepts such as integration, interdependence and the “closed loop“. There is no waste, but resources. Eco- products that can be processed, consumed, abandoned and refed into the production cycle in other forms, in the logic that “ one thing leads to another.”

At the base of the crisis of consumptions, there is a “linear” model production, high waste of energy and natural resources. The products resulting from these resources, at the end of their life cycle become waste. The high cost required for their disposal, resource scarcity and price volatility have undermined this system. One response to this difficulty comes from the realization of an “circular” economy, based on reuse and regeneration values.

In order to become innovation, it must be the result of a new conception of the production process of goods, as well as their design. The basic conception of this innovation process is the will to reduce the production of waste by re-inserting the components of a product in production cycles, thereby limiting the dependence on natural resources. The beneficiaries of the assets are no longer seen as consumers, but as users. This means that unless a product has to be changed for its reuse, faster will be its reinstatement in the process. Also it can be reused several times, and its potential savings will be higher. Product innovation starts then by the choice of materials, which must be environmentally friendly and reusable.

Canopea: Solar Energy Modular House with 10 kW Solar Panels

Floor plans
Multy-storey modular concept
Project participants

In September 2012, teams of students from 12 countries gathered at Villa Solar, an open public space in Madrid. They participated in Solar Decathlon, a competition to build prototypes of innovative energy-efficient homes. Each prototype had to be installed in 11 days on the site of Villa Solar and to respect a certain number of constraints, in particular:

  • living area 45 sqm - 70 sqm with a footprint of not more than 150 sqm;
  • integration of an autonomous energy system using solar energy with a maximum power of 10 kW (solar panels);
  • temperature permanently maintained between 23° C and 25° C.

This initiative, with a dual educational and scientific ambition, was started in the United States by the Department of Energy before being developed in Europe and China more recently. In Madrid, the various installations were rated according to 10 criteria, including architecture, comfort, economic viability and electrical balance of the structure. And it is the Canopea project, bringing together students from different schools in the Rhone-Alpes region supported by numerous public and private partners, who won this friendly competition.

The Rhone-Alpes team, carrying the award-winning Canopea project, has developed a concept of modular "home-towers", inspired by the canopy, the upper part of the forest that captures nearly 95% of solar energy. The modular buildings consist of up to 10 floors, each apartment ideally occupying a whole floor as a small house and enjoying a 360° view. Different modular "home-towers" are interconnected by external passageways to create meeting places without harming the need for privacy.

In Madrid, the solar energy modular house prototype presented simulated the last two floors of a modular "home-tower", an innovative tower of limited size and with a good "connection" to the networks, with an optimized energy system. This type of solar energy modular house is tested locally at two sites in Lyon as well as at the scientific campus in Grenoble as part of the GIANT program.

Fab Lab House: Prefab Design for CNC Machine + Flexible Solar Panels

Inside the house
Form follows energy
Project participants

“A solar house should be made from a solar material such as wood.”

Salvador Rueda, Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona

“Rather than making solar houses, we can create self-sufficient habitats that are able to produce energy, food and other goods.”

Vicente Guallart, IAAC

“The Fab Lab House is developed on a network of fabrication laboratories using CNC machines to design and produce houses that can be customizable by the inhabitants, and at the same time adaptable to the environmental conditions”

Neil Gershenfeld, Center for Bits and Atoms, MIT

The Fab Lab House won Solar Decathlon Europe 2010 people’s choice award. In Madrid more than 20,000 people, who interested in solar house design, have visited the most liked and popular solar house in Spain, designed and manufactured by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC).

Prince Felipe of Spain said it looked like a wooden boat but the spectacular prefab solar house produced by Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia was also called “peanut house” “cinnamon submarine,” “forest zeppelin” or “whale belly”.

The queues to visit the Fab Lab prefab house have greatly surprised the design team of the project: more than 20,000 visitors saw the solar prefab house during the ten days of Solar Decathlon Europe competition. The design team has been awarded with the people’s choice award. “This is a really important award for us – said Daniel Ibanez, Co-Director of the Fab Lab project – because compared to other solar houses we wanted to achieve a very human house. We wanted to make a house to live more than a technology showroom.”

However the Fab Lab house has also introduced significant innovations and state-of-the-art technologies such as the most efficient in the world flexible solar panels, designed and made with both American and Spanish technologies. This created a great interest among people and companies who visited the solar prefab house and it represents an important and significant breakthrough in the sustainable architecture and using of flexible solar panels in facades and roofs. “We wanted to overcome the idea that a solar house is a traditional house with solar panels on top and a lot of modern technology inside. Our project is a full solar house, a new generation of building that visitors have come to appreciate.” says the co-director of the Fab Lab project.

“The competition has been a great way to push the spirit of innovation in the field of architecture and construction in these times of crisis. We will propose that future editions will add tests where they value passive energy solutions in the design of buildings rather than the high consumption of energy to achieve comfort conditions. A solar house competition in Europe should overcome the American technical understanding, and bring values related to outdoor space and the social use of energy” says Vicente Guallart, Director of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.

So far the solar prefab house has already attracted the interest of the media and the public. The Fab Lab house has been put up for sale from € 45,000 + VAT. Various possible house configurations are defined: Villa (96 +96 sqm), House (60 +60 sqm), Studio (36 sqm), Shelter (24 sqm) and Cottage (12 sqm).

The Fab Lab project, which involved experts, engineers and architects from 20 countries, is being developed by the worldwide network of Fab Labs, The Center for Bits and Atoms from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC). The project participants include following companies: Schneider Electric, Endesa, Visoren, Santa & Cole, Roca, Vincon and Nani Marquina.

Ocean Community - Prefab Floating Home Concept

Red Dot Award 2019 Winner

Design: Wojciech Morsztyn, Poland

In the next 10 to 15 years, rising sea levels could bring irreplaceable changes to our environment. Ocean Community creates mobile domestic naval units and transforms the ocean into a habitable space. The creation of these new structures will serve as fully functional living spaces connected with existing land infrastructure so that new ocean communities become a natural extension of coastal cities. Small floating and sailing modules are located 800m from the coastlines, close enough for everyday life on land.

This future mobility concept is a fully autonomous system that easily provide facilities similar to that on land. Autonomous storage modules are created in the stationary centre; they can be easily released and attached to the units by the requested users. Another advantage of the Ocean Community system is its ability to harness sustainable energy such as water, sun and wind. Ocean Community could also be used in the commercial market such as hotels, touristic spots and other habitats.

How to Make Your Prefab Small Home Layout Feel Bigger

It seems that a growing trend among homeowners is to live in a smaller space. Gone are the days when the majority of homeowners longed for huge homes. Today’s homeowners prefer smaller spaces that require less time and expense for upkeep. However, even though the trend is to go smaller when it comes to home size, there is still a significant need to maximize the space that one has.

Prefab Modular Home Additions / Extensions

Prefab Modular Emergency Housing, NYC, USA

Floor plans
About Garrison Architects
About Mark Line Industries
About NYC Emergency Management
About American Manufactured Structures and Services (AMSS)

Design Garrison Architects
Deploy time 15 hours
Location NYC
Year 2015

Description by architects

Developed for the New York City Office of Emergency Management, Garrison Architects was hired by American Manufactured Structures and Services (AMSS) to design amodular post-disaster housing prototype for displaced city residents in the event of a catastrophic natural or manmade disaster. The multi-story, multi-family units can be deployed in less than 15 hours, in various arrangements calibrated for challenging urbanconditions.

This prototype is preceded by more than 6 years of research by the City of New York into emergency housing,” says James Garrison, Principal of Garrison Architects. “Aside from the basics of providing shelter after a disaster, the prototype is innovative because it allows residents to remain within their communities instead of being displaced for months, or even years. “Shelter in place” allows residents to maintain their support networks - their friends and their families. Keeping neighborhoods intact is crucial for successful rebuilding.”

The aim is to create a blueprint for post-disaster housing by utilizing the latest construction technology in conjunction with stringent requirements for safety, sustainability, durability, and universal design. The modules are infinitely flexible: they can be deployed in vacant lots, private yards, or public spaces. When needed, the modules are trucked to a site, craned into place, and plugged into utilities.

“The beauty of the units lies in their inherent flexibility. They can be stacked like legos to create row housing, or they can be interspersed between existing homes and structures,” says Garrison. “These modules aren’t just for New York City - they were designed to meet the strictest zoning requirements in the US, meaning they can be quickly deployed to any corner of the country.”

For the prototype, a total of 5 modules were fabricated in Indiana by Mark Line Industries. They were then trucked to NYC and installed onsite by American Manufactured Structures and Services, general contractor for the project.

With 1- and 3-bedroom configurations, every unit features a living area, bathroom, fully equipped kitchen and storage space. Units are built with completely recyclable materials, cork floors, zero formaldehyde, a double-insulated shell, and floor-to-ceiling balcony entry doors with integrated shading to lower solar-heat gain, provide larger windows, and add more habitable space. Units can be equipped with photovoltaic panels, which will not only alleviate pressure on the city grid, but also ensure the units are self-sustaining.

The prototype will remain on the corner of Cadman Plaza East and Red Cross Place for one to two years, undergoing occupancy tests by NYU Poly and Pratt. Guests will be invited to live in the units for 5-day intervals to fully explore their functionality. Jim Garrison continues: “We spent months honing all of the technical details for the prototype. Now it is time to investigate the intricate details of living in the units full time.” 2015

Modular Prefab Homes by Modscape, Australia

About Modscape
Materials and Engineering Systems Manufacturers

Solar House - Solar Power Off-the-Grid Prefab Home

Winner of Solar Decathlon 2007

Project participants
Innovative materials manufacturers

Design: Students of the TU Darmstadt, Department of Design and Energy Efficient Construction, Prof. Manfred Hegger (Project Management)
Project: Solar House
Location: El-Lissitzky-Straße 3, 64287 Darmstadt, Hesse
Year: 2007
Client: TU Darmstadt (+ operator + user)
Gross floor area: 72 m²
Heated net floor area: 50 m²
Gross volume: 182 m³
Heating requirement (EnEV): 12,00 kWh / m²a
Usable area (according to EnEV): 58 m²
A / V ratio: 1.15 m-1
Architecture and engineering systems: thermal insulation, façade systems, glazing + windows, daylight planning, ventilation + heat recovery, active cooling, regenerative + passive cooling,
thermally activated component systems, heat pump, heat / cold storage, control engineering, plant management, building automation, solar thermal energy, photovoltaics, biomass utilization, building materials ecology

The solar power off-the-grid prefab home "Solar House" designed by students of the TU Darmstadt has won the international competition "Solar Decathlon 2007" for the most attractive and energy-efficient solar house. The energy self-sufficient prefab home was built on the campus of the TU Darmstadt and transported to the USA after completion.

The house is a wooden lightweight construction with low heat storage mass compared to massive new buildings. In order to combine maximum living comfort with the lowest energy consumption, a compact and highly insulated building envelope was chosen. During the hot summer days, the shading of the windows help to avoid overheating the interiors. The shading elements consist of the southern roof overhang and the lamellar shell of oak, which opens and closes when needed.

Plasterboard with integrated phase change material (PCM) compensate for heat peaks. They store the heat energy generated during the day and release it at night. Per volume unit, the material can store six times as much heat as concrete and thus acts as a latent heat storage. Once the wax contained in the PCM has completely melted, no further heat can be absorbed. Cooling can be achieved by cross-ventilation between the north and south sides during the night or by passive cooling system of the PV modules on the roof. For this purpose, a built-in double soil water reservoir is used, which is connected to a heat exchanger. On the opposite side of the heat exchanger is the cooling circuit, which consists of capillary tube mats in the ceiling. These absorb the heat of the phase change material and transport it into the water tank. This allows the PCM to actively cool constantly.