Modern Modules

With so many natural disasters hitting the world, many designers are now looking at how to design living spaces which are green while keeping disaster-resistance in mind.

With the emphasis on lightweight, flat pack construction, California-based Bellomo Architects' House Arc is another such stellar example of compact, off-grid living, but with disaster-resistance in mind. The first prototype has been built and we take a look at this innovating design.

According to the architects, the House Arc system is a modular, pre-fabricated system that is designed to be 100 percent off-grid.

Measuring 150 square feet, it comes as flat pack components which can be shipped in a 4 x 10 x 3 foot box -- thus making it viable as an option for disaster response, as it can be assembled locally.

Since it is designed to withstand tropical storms, it is intended also as an affordable, long-term replacement for structurally unsound housing, suitable for the aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Haiti's 2010 earthquake even if the glossy renderings make it seem like a poolside resort.

Modelled after the compact and curvaceous form of the old-school trailer, House Arc's structure consists of a steel rib tube framework, clad with polycarbonate sheeting and wood, weighing a total of only 3000 pounds. The idea is to have a house that is easy and quick to assemble on-site.

There's also a rainwater collection system, photovoltaics on the roof and large windows provide natural light, maintain views, and funnel in ocean breezes to cool the interior while the shading trellis limits heat infiltration. The raised structure allows air to flow underneath for cooling, functions with the site terrain, and maintains the permeability of the site.

Though one could also see it as an extra work-pod out back in the yard, it is the hope of the architects that this modular housing system will catch on with relief organizations for rebuilding situations -- definitely a better option than flimsy, makeshift tents or toxic trailers.

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