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Modules inform design. Modules inform homes

Inform Design Inform Home

One of the beauties of a Modscape home is that it is built and installed in just 12 weeks.

How can we achieve this?

Well we definitely aren’t working around the clock (although sometimes we do!). The efficient construction cycle is thanks to our winning combination of modularisation and prefabrication.

These two work hand in hand to create a degree of automation that simply cannot be achieved on-site. By building in our factory, the risk of weather and site delays is eliminated, allowing for a fixed timeline for design, construction and delivery.

So exactly what is a module?

A module is a fully welded structural steel frame that uses structurally insulated panels to create a highly insulated cell.

And does building with modules mean you are stuck with a certain design?

Not at all. When it comes to design, modules can inform homes and can also be used to create almost any configuration of spaces. All of our modules are customised to suit each design, and the majority of our homes use a combination of module sizes – placing them side-by-side or end-to-end.

The benefits of modules don’t stop there. Our homes are fabricated to completion prior to leaving our factory – not only minimising the amount of work required on site, but also enabling us to oversee and achieve a consistent level of quality.

Design and finish options are limitless, but every design is the result of a genuine collaboration with each client that centres around their specific project requirements, site and budget. Openness and collaboration with our clients ensure their interests are at the heart of everything we design.

Design led but totally flexible in outcome, the Modscape modular method offers the very best in contemporary prefab homes and building solutions.

Project Modscape

MODSCAPE_FACTORY

Each month we feature one of our recently completed projects. This month however, we’ve decided to feature where those projects are designed and constructed – our Modscape factory and office.

We operate from a facility in Brooklyn which includes an impressive factory that was once an operational foundry.

Factory Modular Homes MODSCAPE_FACTORY MODSCAPE_FACTORY in MELBOURNE

The factory is where all of the Modscape modules are constructed, and its environment ensures a rigorous level of quality control is achieved.

MODSCAPE_FACTORYMODSCAPE PREBUILT HOME FACTORYMODSCAPE FACTORYMODSCAPE MODULAR HOMES FACTORY

Doing all of the construction indoors also means that the risk of weather and site delays is eliminated and that projects, both residential and commercial, are delivered within their agreed timescales.

MODSCAPE_FACTORY

Attached to the factory is the home of the Modscape team and this is where the project design happens.  The team combine their extensive experience in the design, development and construction industries to create our modular masterpieces, overseeing projects from design right through to installation.

Our Display Suite is also here, so next time you are in the neighbourhood let us know and we can give you a tour.

Things we love: Solar panels go couture

Solar Shirt - Wearable Solar

Photo credit: Liselotte Fleur

How many times has your phone died while you’re out and about? Annoying right? Well that may be now a thing of the past thanks to the Solar Shirt designed by Pauline van Dongen in collaboration with Holst Centre.

The Solar Shirt is the latest design in the Wearable Solar collection where sun-powered garments seek to seamlessly integrate technology and fashion.

Solar power is an “intelligent and cautious way” to use the plant’s resources, van Dongen says. “We’re becoming more and more depending on connectivity. Therefore a smart garment, augmented with solar cells that can harvest energy, is an ideal solution when we find ourselves in an off-grid situation.”

The stretchable – not to mention washable – Solar Shirt incorporates 120 flexible solar cells, enough to restore a typical smartphone’s charge by 50% after an hour’s exposure in the full sun. But smartphones aren’t the only things the Solar Shirt can keep running. The garments can also charge MP3 players, cameras, GPS units and any other USB-compatible portable device. Plus, any excess electricity can be stored in the shirt’s battery pack for later use.

Not only will you look slick, but you’ll never again have to experience the annoyance of a dead phone. We love it.

Converted lifeguard towers become exciting winter pavilions

Toronto Winter Stations

Popping down to the beach in minus 20 degree temperatures may not be your idea of a cultured and artistic day out – except if you live in Toronto.

A series of public art installations have recently popped up along the frozen waterfront as a result of the Winters Stations design competition to convert empty lifeguard towers into exciting winter pavilions.

Channelling the theme of ‘Warmth’, competitors were asked to create installations anchored to one of the unused lifeguard towers. Over 200 international artists, designers, architects and landscape architects submitted entries and 5 were selected. The results added colour, movement and humour what was a somewhat bleak and frozen landscape.

“The goal with Winter Stations is to infuse colour and vibrancy back into the beach community, which is so lively in the summer months, but tends to slow down come winter,” added Roland Rom Colthoff of RAW.

The exhibition included a set of bright red slings (pictured) where loops of vivid red fabric were suspended from scaffolding attached to the lifeguard tower. The slings, reminiscent of a deckchair, were intended to cocoon the guests, defending them from the harsh winds.

Other installations and pavilions included a timber driftwood throne; a pine cone shaped shelter with a rainbow coloured translucent skin; a black insulated cube with spongey walls; and a rounded fortress-like structure made from time batons.

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

Archinowhere

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.

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