Home in a box

Words: Anna Cumming Photography: David Curzon
  • MODE’s Cube House, arrives as a single transportable module and folds out to form a permanent two or three bedroom house with deck. “The fold out process is simple: it takes about half a day and only requires two labourers,” says Matthew.
  • Kitchens and bathrooms are constructed and pre-finished in the factory before the rest of the module’s floors, roofs and walls are packed around them on hinges for transport.
  • The roof design incorporates a Klip-Lok-clad lowered central roof portion that slopes at three degrees to an open eave gutter at the rear, avoiding box gutters and associated leakage problems and allowing a single water catchment point.

Established in 2014 by Sydney architect Matthew Dynon after two years of research and testing, MODE Homes takes off-site fabrication one step further.

When you order one of their ‘bespoke modular’ homes, it’s not just wall, floor and roof components that arrive on site ready for installation, but pretty much the entire house – folded up. MODE offers ‘standard’ (40sqm) and ‘stretched’ (60-110sqm) modules that can be “configured, connected, rotated and stacked in order to respond to different site constraints, solar orientations and accommodation requirements,” explains Matthew.

Each module arrives with internal finishes applied and services in place ready for connection. Kitchen and bathrooms are built and finished in the factory, and then the wall, floor and roof components required for the living and bedroom sections of the module are stacked around this central core for transport, reducing the size to about a third of the finished home module.

“The folding structural frame is predominantly a strong welded galvanised steel, to handle the loads during the folding process and transportation,” says Matthew. Like other factory-built modular systems, MODE’s method promises efficiencies like reduced deliveries to site, reduced energy use during construction, minimal waste in the factory and zero onsite, and a quicker build time, all of which help to reduce the home’s energy footprint. The ‘fold-pack’ system also allows the components to be delivered in smaller truckloads, which Matthew points out saves on average 10 to 20 per cent of the total build cost of the home when compared to the ‘oversize’ deliveries required for other prefabricated homes.

With a display home built in Belmore, Sydney, MODE is currently working with the University of New South Wales to ensure its built homes achieve the design’s 8 Star energy efficiency ratings in all climatic regions in Australia.

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Designer: Matthew Dynon Architect

Builder: MODE Homes

Structural: NITMA Consulting

Cost: Starting at$2000 per square metre

Size: prototype 60 sqm; available from 40-240sqm

Star rating: 8 Stars

Renewable energy & hot water: options include stand-alone or grid-connected solar PV systems, and efficient gas or solar flat plate water heaters

Water saving: 2400 L BlueScope Slimline rainwater tank included as standard

Windows & glazing: Western red cedar double glazed windows and bi-fold doors by Airlite

Lighting: Compact fluorescent and LED lights throughout

Sustainable building materials: Galvanised steel structural frame; Kingspan Air-cell Insulbreak 65 and Bradford Martini Xtratherm PIR high performance insulation in walls and ceiling; Elton Group FSC certified Eply for internal lining. Cladding options include Western Red Cedar ship lap, Colorbond custom orb, Shadowclad Ecoply and FC sheet.

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