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Battery powered prefab homes soon to be a reality

Battery powered prefab homes
The company that brought us the electric car, Tesla Motors, has revealed its plans to produce battery packs strong enough to power houses.

“We are going to unveil the Tesla home battery – the consumer battery that would be for use in people’s houses or businesses – fairly soon,” announced Chief Executive Officer, Elon Musk, last month.

And the batteries aren’t decades off becoming a reality either. The design phase has already been completed, with Musk confirming that it should start going into production in around six months’ time.

Unfortunately he didn’t give away too much about how the batteries will look or function, except for saying “it’s really great”, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Once the batteries do hit out shores though, combining them with solar panels in your prefab modular home could allow you to avoid buying electricity altogether from utility companies.

Earlier in the month we did a blog on what a carbon zero and carbon positive house was, and how to put a carbon positive spin on your prefab.

Integrating battery power into the design of your prefab home could be a further step in ensuring that the net amount of energy you generate on site is more than the net amount of energy required by the building – thereby making a positive contribution to the planet.

Modscape’s eco friendly prefab modular homes and buildings are based on sustainable design principles that minimise environmental impact, maximise year round comfort and reduce running costs. These principles are applied to every aspect of the design, material selection, systems utilised and operations.

We’re looking forward to hopefully adding the Tesla home battery to our sustainable systems list in the very near future.

Putting a carbon positive spin on your prefab modular home

Carbon Positive House
If you are a fan of Grand Designs Australia, you may recall the environmentally intelligent Barossa Valley Glass House.

The 57m long stunning building incorporated a solar energy system that generated more power than it used. Morning sun kept the house warm during winter, assisted by double-glazed windows to prevent heat loss. Concrete floors in the main living areas then took on the job of absorbing, storing and releasing heat (or thermal mass).

Although the segment finished once the build was completed, this combination of elements once established and operational looked set to creating a carbon positive house in the very near future.

So what exactly is a ‘carbon positive’ house and can the term apply to prefab modular homes? To answer this question we firstly need to take a step back and look at the idea of a ‘carbon zero’ home.

‘Carbon zero’ (also known as ‘carbon neutral’ or ‘zero emission’) is a term applied to buildings that use renewable energy sources to generate the exact amount of energy they need to operate.

A house that would be defined as a ‘carbon positive’ house goes one step further. It actually produces more energy on site than the house needs and then feeds that back into the grid.

To cost effectively achieve carbon zero or carbon positive status requires careful design and planning. But the most cost effective place to start is by working out how best to reduce the amount of energy you use and then focusing on increasing the efficiency of your home.

Modscape’s eco-friendly prefab modular homes and buildings are based on sustainable design principles that minimise environmental impact, maximise year round comfort and reduce running costs. These principles are applied to every aspect of the design, material selection, systems utilised and operations.

In the design phase alone we:

  • analyse your site for effective orientation
  • optimise passive solar heating and cooling
  • use high thermal insulation
  • ensure breezes are captured for natural ventilation
  • control high glazed areas with screening
  • control summer heat gains
  • use thermal mass to create radiant coolness.

In the material selection phase, materials that enhance the passive design strategy and have a low embodied energy are selected.

Equipment and appliances are chosen based on energy efficiency. These are monitored for ongoing performance, with services optimised for power, water and waste.

The beauty of Modscape homes is that they are all custom built, so we can tailor the design to suit your specific environmental goals and your site’s individual requirements.

Click the link for more information on our sustainable design principles.

Project Australian Catholic University

Australian Catholic University - Prefab Project

Modscape was approached by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) to investigate a prefabricated modular solution to create additional learning spaces on its St Patrick’s campus in Melbourne.

Working closely with the University’s project manager Donald Cant Watts Corke, a detailed site analysis of several locations on campus was undertaken to determine the ultimate position for the project. The new addition was sited in a prominent location at the corner of Brunswick Street and Victoria Parade, Fitzroy on what was a vacant tramways lot. The space connects directly with St Mary of the Cross Square, ensuring the building is fully integrated into the campus whilst activating what was once a derelict site.

The C-shaped design made up of 46 modules includes external decking with both covered walkways and open-air breakout spaces that connect the learning spaces around the perimeter and optimise the northern orientation. The building utilises the bluestone plinth from a former tramways building to produce a connection to the site’s past, while the façade takes its inspiration from surrounding structures. A combination of Vitrabond and Colorbond produced a vertical rhythm along the streetscape.  The building is completely integrated with ACU’s data, audio-visual and security systems and due to its location on a busy intersection of tramways and roads, it was acoustically designed to block out external noise.

The prefab project was completed in two stages. In stage one, 23 prefabricated modules were constructed in a total of 12 weeks. This first stage comprises 2,000 square metres of learning space. This was installed in only four nights between 1 and 4am to avoid disrupting the tram network. The second stage, another 23 modules installed on top of stage one, provides a further 1,315 square metres of learning and office space. These modules were installed during the university holidays, this time in only 12 hours. Brunswick St was closed to traffic and buses replaced trams during this remarkably quick installation, again minimising disruption to the campus and surrounding infrastructure and attracting great curiosity among passers-by.

Archinowhere by Federico Babina


Image via Archdaily

Italian illustrator Federico Babina has created this wonderful series of images which, as their name suggests, belong everywhere and “nowhere”.

Fusing classic retro-futuristic ideas of the modern world with glimpses of bygone fashions and design, the “parallel universe” invites us over for cocktails on impossibly elegant balconies in exotic dream-like locations. It’s difficult to see these pictures and not hanker for a martini while looking out over the Los Angeles, Tokyo or Milan skylines of imagined futures past.

The artist has created many other series of beautiful, whimsical illustrations with architecture and design themes. These tantalising dream-worlds remind us that architecture doesn’t always need to be built to be real in our minds.

Things we love: Nordic Cool at NGV

Nordic cool

image via NGV

Scandinavian design has long been renowned for its functional qualities and truth to materials.  From the 28th February, some of the finest works of modernist Scandinavian design from the National Gallery of Victoria’s collection will be on display at the Nordic Cool exhibition.

Leading designers from the 1920s to the 1960s are showcased, many of whom continue to influence design today in Scandinavia and around the world – Georg Jensen, Fritz Hansen and Marimekko, to name but a few. The exhibition explores the relationship between exquisite form and function across a range of design practices including ceramics, glass, silver, furniture, textiles and lighting.

Georg Jensen designer and earlier pioneer of functionalism in design, Henning Koppel, regarded his designs as sculptures: “I believe that any object first and foremost should be beautiful. To make a thing functional and practical is not as difficult as some may want you to believe. It is actually the easiest part”.

We love having the chance to see this area of the Gallery’s collection, and we follow that same design philosophy in all of our work. Modscape’s combination of prefabricated design technology and experience enables us to create prefabricated homes that are both beautiful and functional.

Project Brunswick West

Modular Home Brunswick, Vic

This home makes a dramatic statement on a low-key street in the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick West.

Our clients had lived in an old house on the site for a number of years and found themselves at the point where they needed to either move or demolish and rebuild, as renovating the existing house was not feasible. They wanted a sustainable home that functioned efficiently for their young family – during the design development phase they were adamant that “everything has a place” – while also making an impact on the modest streetscape.

Our objective was to maximise the available envelope by positioning the house close to the front boundary of the site, taking full advantage of the northern aspect and garden space at the rear. The open-plan kitchen, dining and living areas on the ground floor look out across the back garden and a timber deck, sheltered by the cantilevered first floor module, provides generous indoor-outdoor space.

The first floor features the three bedrooms, bathroom and en-suite in a railroad layout, while a study and viewing platform occupies the top of the tower module and offers spectacular views of the city and surrounds.

The ground floor of this visually stunning element also serves as the entry portal and a storage area for toys and equipment. A great deal of time and detail went into designing the tower to add a touch of drama to the otherwise simple layout of the home. Its cantilevered steel-tread spiral staircase forms the spine of the house, integrating the three floors via a bright, ply-lined vertical hallway. The youngest members of the family have put the tower to use as an extra play area, complete with a homemade bucket and pulley system for the efficient distribution of toys across all three levels.

Melbourne School of Design


image via architectureau © Peter Bennetts

The new home of the Melbourne School of Design at The University of Melbourne will welcome its first classes on March 2. Designed by Melbourne’s John Wardle Architects in collaboration with NADAAA from Boston, this spectacular addition to the University’s Parkville campus was designed as a “living, pedagogical building”, featuring exposed structural details and services to help students understand the resolution of complex design issues. One example is the library’s book stack located in the basement which has windows “looking out” on to the building’s footings and mechanical services. The construction process was also an educational experience as students attended exhibitions, tours and studios around the site. The future shapers of Australia’s built environment will be inspired in, and by, the spectacular three-level Hansen Yuncken studios suspended by cross-laminated timber in the four-storey atrium.  The building has been awarded a 6 Star Green Star Design – Education Design v1 rating by the Green Building Council of Australia and is the first education facility to be awarded the maximum 10 Green Star innovation credits, demonstrating the Melbourne School of Design and the wider University’s commitment to sustainability. Modscape managing director Jan Gyrn is a graduate of The University of Melbourne’s faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.

Things we love: HOME public art project

Home house in focus 2

“Everyone has a story about what home means to them. What’s yours?” That was the question the Art Centre’s ambitious Home public art project posed to the community groups earlier this month. Their responses were represented in the form of 7,000 individually decorated little houses exhibited in the “Big House”, situated on the Art Centre’s main lawn. The public were then invited to take one of the small houses from the exhibition, photograph it in its new destination and share their images on an online portal. The Modscape team became the proud temporary owner of house #185 and fell in love with this project for so many reasons. We love our little house for its bold colour palette, polka-dot large red ‘M’ façade and roof-mounted helicopter and plane – perfect for a clifftop location! We loved seeing all of the distinctive house designs and the process that went into creating them on the Home website. We loved following the journeys of the houses via the hashtag #homemelb – journeys just like our Modscape homes take all around Australia. And we loved reading people’s ideas about what home means to them, a concept we explore with our clients in detail as we help them create their ideal home. There are many ways to describe what home means to Modscape – innovative, sustainable, custom designed – but we couldn’t put it better than one young Home project participant:  “Home is where my family is, where the heart is and where it is warm and safe”.

Project Mirvac Display Suite

Modscape Modular Building at Docklands Victoria

Idyllically situated on the southern banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne’s Docklands, the Wharf’s Entrance residential development project is the final instalment of the comprehensive Yarra’s Edge community by Mirvac, offering luxury waterfront living inspired by international design and culture.

Modscape collaborated with Mirvac’s marketing, design and construction teams to deliver an iconic sales and marketing suite that will facilitate the sale of their residences, and encapsulate the look and feel of the development and the site’s wharfside heritage.

Unlike more traditional sales suite designs, the building demonstrates an ambitious architectural style through an ellipsoid-shaped modular form and a bespoke curtain wall glazing system that symbolises the wharf’s entrance and delivers unobstructed waterfront views.

Consisting of four modular quadrants delivering 210 sqm of space, the interior flows between open-plan zones dedicated to 3D display models, simulated kitchen and bathroom areas, a reception, a multimedia room, and staff amenities.

The building’s interior is finely detailed and well-considered, embracing the lifestyle of waterfront living. Metallic elements including a copper-clad media room and folded plate steel entrance are blended with a grey pallete of leather and stone that gives reference to the residential aesthetic, while the inclusion of recycled wharf timber in the reception desk and external landscape totems pays homage to the wharf and its riverfront surrounds.

Tape Paris by Numen/For Use



When was the last time you looked at a roll of sticky tape and imagined creative potential beyond its humble uses? The guys at Numen/For Use, a euro design collective, obviously saw something in that little roll of stickiness that most of us didn’t, and created Tape Paris — their latest installation that uses sticky tape as its structural basis. It took 12 pairs of hands, a ladder, and ten days to transform the Palais de Tokyo gallery into a biomorphic playground. Some 44km of sticky tape (yes, 44!) was used to create a labyrinth of gossamer-like inhabitable tunnels that precariously hang 6m above the gallery foyer. However, Tape Paris is anything but unstable, with the structure possessing enough tensile strength to support the weight of five humans at any one time. Once inside, visitors can navigate their way through a 50m stretch of tortuous passageways — lined with elastic film and flexing to interior movements while retaining its shape —as bemused onlookers play witness to the activity from below. According to the creators, Tape Paris delves into the murky territory of both physical and psychological interiority, thematising immersion, introspection and probing of the depths of self. It fuses architecture and sculpture into a corporeal concept that creates new meaning for dead overhead space. Curious folk might like to know that this is not the first time Numen/For Use has displayed its artistic tape flair. The team also produced a tape installation not that dissimilar in Federation Square in Melbourne a few years ago entitled, you guessed it, Tape Melbourne.

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