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Prefabricated ‘tiny house’ prototype launched in Geelong

A prototype, prefabricated, one-bedroom unit could provide a new method sustainable, comfortable and affordable housing in Geelong.

A prototype, prefabricated, one-bedroom unit could provide a new method sustainable, comfortable and affordable housing in Geelong.

Deakin University, Geelong-based technology company Flow form and Samaritan House Geelong have partnered to develop the prototype, called Prefab21.

Measuring in at four metres by 10 metres, Prefab21 includes a living space, bedroom and bathroom. It is the first of seven independent living units to be installed by Samaritan House Geelong in the suburb of Moolap to provide transitional accommodation for men experiencing homelessness.

Project leader Professor James Doerfler from Deakin’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, said Prefab21 draws on sustainable design principles using strong, durable, recyclable materials and advanced prefabrication processes.

“This industry partnership created a unique real-world learning experience for our students and produced a home that exceeded the original goals,” he said.

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“The project has allowed us to demonstrate how next-generation design and manufacturing offer a new way of thinking about 21st century housing.

“Importantly, the project also helps position Geelong at the forefront of sustainable, smart and efficient advanced manufacturing, and demonstrates our commitment as a globally recognised City of Design to the community’s clever and creative vision,” Doerfler said.

Samaritan House Geelong Board Member Brian Sherwell said the project is an innovative response to the shortage of affordable rental accommodation for single homeless men in Geelong.

“This is an exciting project for us because it encourages local collaboration with Deakin and FormFlow, and supports Geelong innovation. It has excellent potential for independent living, especially related to social housing needs in regional Victoria and elsewhere across the country,” Sherwell said.

FormFlow Chief Operating Officer Bernard Brussow said Prefab21 met six-star energy ratings and had a reduced carbon footprint because all components could be recycled.

“Passive solar features include a north-facing orientation, elevated ceiling, high eaves and a ‘floating’ roof, which accommodates the winter sun and block the summer sun. Despite its size, the window positions and high ceilings give the house a sense of spaciousness and ensure it doesn’t feel boxed-in,” Brussow said.

Brussow said the Prefab21 concept has wide potential in prefabricated modular living and tiny house applications.

“As well as transitional housing, the design is already being used by conventional homeowners who need extra space, such as families with growing teenagers. It can also be used as emergency accommodation after bushfires or earthquakes and its modularity means it can be expanded for standard housing, with particular value in high density urban areas and developing nations,” Brussow said.

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