There are several good things going for modular housing: for starters, there's less waste compared to the conventional building industry, the quality can be more consistent, and it can be built relatively quickly because it's prefabricated in the controlled environment of a factory, rather than built onsite.
Modularity also allows the future opportunity to expand when the occupants' needs change. That's the impetus behind this 44-square-meter (474-square-foot) design by Portuguese architects Appleton & Domingos for modular home builder Jular. The concept for the two-module, two-bedroom Treehouse Riga is based on the idea that it can grow according to the needs of families or individuals, just as a tree will develop new branches.
The modules each have an area of 22 square meters (236 square feet) each, and are attached in an offset manner that creates two distinct exterior spaces. The home is sheltered by ventilated facades made with ThermoWood, a thermally modified wood that is made more durable with a special process. The walls use Kerto micro-laminated veneer lumber (LVL) for a strong and dimensionally stable structure.
One module contains the kitchen and living room spaces, while the other houses the bedrooms and bathroom. A sliding wall of birch wood can be used to close off each of the modules during the night, or it can slide away to open them up during the day.
One bedroom actually opens up completely with the sliding wall put away, making it more of a flexible, lynchpin space that connects the two modules spatially, doubling as a sitting area or perhaps a workspace in the daytime, and an extra bedroom for a guest at night.
Here are the plans, showing the basic two-module plan, or with an extra module added on.
There's a lot of effort to keep performance high and the cost as low as possible, the architects say:
[The] Treehouse roof, walls and floors are erected using a multi-layer system, designed to provide high energy efficiency, which translates into savings on climate control costs. All Treehouse wooden components hold PEFC (chain of custody) certification.
There's ongoing debate about whether modular prefabs are truly green, but the reality is that not everyone is going to have the time and motivation to build their own home, much less put in the extra time to research and implement whatever sustainable design innovations might be current. In any case, this one is a tasteful design that's also flexible in nature, hitting the sweet spot for size, eco-friendly materials and quality. Find out more over at Appleton & Domingos, Jular and Treehouse.