A prefabricated modular dwelling has been placed on the empty rooftop of an eight-storey office building in the heart of Hobart in hopes of exploring alternative housing solutions for high-density inner-city areas.
The pod, known as Omnipod, was created by Rosevear Architects and Tasmanian property developer Brett Torossi. It was designed to be flexible and able to adapt to any location.
“The Omnipod is an off-site constructed modular dwelling project that unites quality, economy and adaptability in a package that can be expediently fabricated and located, (or later relocated,) on a variety of site locations; from a suburban lot, to a remote mountainside or in this prototype, the top of an inner city Hobart building to create the Avalon City Retreat,” the creators said.
Avalon City Retreat offers an alternative to the ‘mainland’ and international market, which is growing due to the new cultural initiatives in the city such as the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and the annual Festival of Music and Art, which have helped Hobart earn a place on Lonely Planet’s 2013 list of top 10 travel destinations.
The Omnipod system employs two prototypes – the six-tonne bedroom/ensuite units and the four-tonne central open-planned units. For the Avalon City Retreat, two bedroom/ensuite units were located at the ends of three central units, which hold kitchen, dining and living spaces respectively.
A continuous deck is used to connect all the modules and unify the main façade. While each unit includes sliding glass doors opening to the deck, the living and dining modules provide a mirrored arrangement of sliding glass doors to create an informal entry and receive a larger verandah module if required. Windows – an optional feature of the units – were used to take advantage of the site’s views and orientation.
Each unit is 3.4 metres wide, 7.2 metres long and three metres high, and has been designed to fit on an unescorted truck and engineered to be lifted by crane or helicopter. For the Avalon City Retreat, the Omnipod was delivered to site and erected via crane within 12 hours.
In addition to the construction benefits of prefabricated homes , the Omnipod boasts high thermal efficiency and low energy use.
Its creators are attempting to create a model that can adapt to multiple sites and still maintain good solar orientation, simple access and optimal views without requiring case-by-case modification. In the installation and orientation in Hobart, the apartment has achieved 6.5 stars under the ‘First Rate 5’ assessment.
In addition to being relatively low-cost and durable, the Omnipod can be used as a residential house and also be adapted for use as a studio or an office.
Torossi suggests that, “like a snail shell that one could carry around,” the prefabricated home could be located on a rooftop for 10 years and then transported to the bush, to the mountains or to the coast, near the beach.
The idea of filling empty rooftops in the city with little pods excites Torossi, who hopes neighbouring building owners show an interest in replicating the Avalon City Retreat project.
“The multi-layered development strategy also allows for a long-term investment,” he said. “Like in chess – where the end-game is played out in a series of subtle and almost undetectable small, patient moves – this project is a small piece in a much larger speculative game. And like the humble pawn, the Omnipod could become a professionally transformative example – a potential major piece – in the urban strategy for future development.”
Rosevear Architects was recently awarded the AIA Peter Willmott Award for Small Projects (TAS) 2013 for the project.