A modular passive house concept out of France dubbed Pop-Up House has been generating a fair amount of ooh la las over the past few days — and for good reason, as it would appear to truly live up to the claim presented in its tagline, which to some, could be read as an oxymoron: “Making passive construction easy."
Easy, of course, was the operative word involved with the construction of the 1,615-square-foot Pop-Up House prototype in Aix-in-Provence, France: It was relatively cheap (more on that in a bit), required hardly any special tools (just an electric screwdriver), and went up insanely quick (just four short days). I’m also guessing that the mental anguish that comes with assembling flat-packed furniture from a certain retailer was absent given that the airtight abode in question revolves around "simplicity that would make a Swedish furniture manufacturer blush!"
The secret weapon harnessed by Pop-Up House’s creator, Marseilles-based architecture and design firm MultiPod Studio, are patented building blocks of EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam insulation sandwiched between laminate veneer lumber boards and snapped-together to form walls, ceilings, and floors like giant LEGO pieces using long, made-to-measure wooden screws.
Although lightweight, inexpensive, and recyclable EPS was used in the Pop-Up House prototype, MultiPod Studio points out that it can be swapped out with other types of low-density insulating panels made from materials such as cork and cellulose. The whole rather handsome shebang, wrapped in cedar rain-screen cladding, can be easily dissembled and rebuilt elsewhere or recycled in its entirety.
An overview from the designers:
Heating represents close to 28% of global energy consumption and is also one of the main household costs. Determined to develop solutions, Multipod Studio have patented a unique approach to passive construction that delivers outstanding thermal insulation at an affordable cost. No special tools required, the house is assembled using lightweight and recyclable materials for quick installation. The materials used are inexpensive so the cost remains unbeatable and the thermal envelope created means no additional heating is necessary. The first prototype of this new type of passive house, has bloomed in the pine valleys of the South of France. The Pop-Up House is an innovative concept that aims to challenge passive house construction. Low cost, recyclable and passive, the Pop-Up House has all of the qualities of tomorrow’s homes.
As for cost, MultiPod Studios lands the foundation-free Pop-Up House in the ballpark of 200 euros ($279) per square meter. This includes the cost of labor but not exterior and interior finishes, electric work, plumbing, etc. Heating is also not included in the overall cost, but again, one could certainly do without a heating system given that the structure is basically constructed from insulation and wood and not much else. Outfitting the roof with vegetation or solar panels is also a possibility.
It’s an intriguing and innovative new building technique — and not without some faults as detailed by Lloyd Alter over at sister site TreeHugger — that, as mentioned, has been garnering quite a bit of excitement. Take a closer look at the Pop-Up House website — lots of more imagery, including interiors, along with technical details and questions — and do watch the below time-lapse video of the home's construction and let me know what you think.
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