Mobile, modular houses: What if you could just add an extra room when you need more space?


Proto-habitat is a flexible eco-friendly house, easily dismantled in five days. Photo: AFP

Imagine an expandable house, to which you could easily add an extra room, or even several ones.

No need to turn your office space into a nursery. It would be quite a good way to avoid the stress of moving, especially if the building was eco-friendly.

Does it sound like a concept out of the distant future? Not as much as you might think, since these types of new nomadic dwellings are seeing the light of day in France and worldwide.

At the beginning of 2020, as the first lockdown measures were being implemented in France, two French architects, Flavien Menu and Frederique Barchelard, came up with their “proto-habitat” – a flexible eco-friendly house, easily dismantled in five days.

Their life-size prototype, currently visible in Bordeaux Jardin Public (in the southwest of France), covers a 30sq m surface on the ground level, with a 15sq m mezzanine and a 30sq m winter garden. You can also add “dismantling modules” if you need extra space.

Barchelard explained to ETX Studio that with this approach, they wanted to “develop individual or collective housing that focuses on green and sustainable material while being economically affordable”.

The two French architects, who both spent a few years in London, want to invite reflection on our current way of life.

They also designed a range of folding and transportable furniture aiming at the “new nomadic generation”, people who tend to move every three years.

Three years earlier, architect Julien Menard and designer Anseau Delassalle presented Novablok, a modular building made of assembling wood blocks (from 21.6sq m) to accommodate inhabitants’ wishes to live in a loft or a more traditional house.

Innovative mobile dwellings are also attracting interest in other countries. In 2017, British company Ten Fold made waves with a living space that can be completely folded up in a few minutes.

This offbeat type of portable house can be transported on a truck. The units are self-deploying; they can fold up or unfold with the mere click of a button of a handheld battery-powered drill.

Ultra convenient for the new generation of nomads who don’t want to stay in the same place for too long! – AFP Relaxnews

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