“If this was from neglect on the manufacturers’ side or arrogance from the architects is difficult to know.

It might be the economic crisis or the desire by first-time buyers to enter a difficult market. It could also be a way to answer an ever-growing demand for houses (in London, for instance) or a trick to keep prices down. Whatever the reason, the fact remains: flat-pack homes are an increasingly hot topic in Europe. But forget about those old-fashioned log cabins: the new kit houses are sleek and thoroughly designed. Some even have the signature of an architect.

For instance, in the Netherlands the local government of the City of Nijmegen has paid young architects to develop 30 affordable flat-pack home designs. And in Sweden cult architecture studio Claesson Koivisto Rune has recently launched Tild, a new flat-pack home concept.

What we do know is that things are changing.” Hence, the concept Tild, currently manufactured by Fiskarhedenvillan. “What matters when you design a kit house is the focus on some strong, characterising features: they will be the elements that will have to be adjustable (flexible in size and configuration) in order to accommodate the individual’s needs and the location’s requirements,” Rune says.

“There is no point in fixing dimensions and proportions. So, the thinking process is almost the opposite of the one that is used when, for instance, restoring a building.”

The features in the Tild concept are the roof, the window niches and the alignment. “We created a single-pitch room with an angle that starts off like a traditional Swedish pitch but with a cut-off peak. The result is a hybrid between a single-pitch and a flat roof.”

The windows are few but they are all large and they are positioned in the most important walls – they are the heart of the home, as Rune explains. Thanks to the presence of bevelled niches that hide the thickness of the joists of all windows and doors: all look like one sleek surface that Rune describes as “a rhythmic composition of wall and void – there are no ‘punched holes’, just transparencies”.

The last feature is the alignment. “The division between the roof and the walls is like a waistline: sharp with every line and cut aligned with each other and with the following one,” he says.

Inside, the home is arranged around a centred element – the communal living – with the dining and kitchen area around it and sleeping quarters upstairs. The large windows and the smooth wall surfaces create an ongoing dialogue with the outdoors.

Tild can be customised to fit any requirements. “The beauty of the idea is that the flavour of the design will not get lost, regardless the changes in the materials, the layout and even the proportions. That’s what people want from an architect-designed flat-pack home,” says Rune.

Despite the ‘signature’, this type of house still costs 20 per cent less than a traditional one. Adjustable fixtures and freedom in proportions: signature flat-pack homes are beautiful but also clever. Truly, prefab (designed) homes might be the social housing of the future. Start lining up!

 

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