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A modular solution for a remote location

This recently completed modular home in a remote location in the Northern NSW hinterland provided an affordable architecturally designed home to a couple who in traditional circumstances may not have thought to engage an architect or be able to afford the construction costs of an architectural home. The modular building process to build this home was an efficient solution on what was a very difficult site. A cost blow out of “Grand Design” proportions was avoided.

The site footprint was limited by both topography and bushfire constraints. A steep revetment presented further difficulties due to the complexity of accessing the area and the costs of scaffolding. The modular solution allowed for the house to be built in the factory without the need for scaffolding. The last six metres cantilevers over the revetment – a drop of approximately 8 metres – and creates the remarkable effect of appearing to float within the trees whilst overlooking the valley below. Rather than steering through the numerous challenges involved in traditional construction, including access, safety, scaffolding and material logistics, the prefabricated pavilion was simply rolled into place on a series of rails.

The house selected by our client for this project was the Oasis, a pavilion style design with interconnecting open and covered breezeways. This design suited both the site and the client’s needs. Some minor adjustments were made to the internal planning arrangements, further responding to site specific needs; namely, addressing some of the fantastic views available in this hinterland location. The pavilion like nature of the design facilitates natural ventilation throughout via both the breezeways and the pressure gradients created by the strategically located windows. Light penetration is also maximised by this layout. It is one of Lightwave’s core philosophies to capitalise on opportunities provided by natural daylight – the effect of light entering the habitable spaces from two opposite directions has the compounding effect of making the houses appear larger than they are.

Modular or factory built houses offer numerous benefits in the right circumstances. In this instance, benefits included:

  • High quality construction by being able to monitor and perform work in a factory controlled environment.

  • Reduced time frames by construction continuing through wet weather periods (this house was built during the wet weather event of the 2011 Brisbane floods when on site projects were delayed from 6-8 weeks).

  • Significantly reduced cost loading for work in a remote location. Tradespeople and deliveries do not need to travel significant distances, nor are costs impacted by labour shortages common in regional areas.

  • No cost loading for work on a steep site and difficult access.

  • An affordable architecturally designed house by utilising a flexible but standard range of housing.

As in all Lightwave undertakings, there are sustainability initiatives and carbon emission reductions offered by the modular building process and we will discuss these in future blogs. We hope you enjoy the pics and gain some understanding of modular construction. As you can see the results are terrific and similar to traditional housing. It’s only the construction process that differs.


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