Casey Bryant, Jonathon Donnelly, and Jennifer McMaster of the Sydney architecture firm Trias recently unveiled a 215-square-foot prefab that’s packed with space-saving solutions. Built-in cabinetry, shelves, and drawers wrap the interior, and the home’s bed and dining table fold into the living room wall to free up floor space when they’re not in use.
The exterior of the dwelling, named Minima, is sheathed in dark-stained cross-laminated timber (CLT), and sections of the facade slide away to open the living area to the outside world. The sections can also be closed for privacy, giving the rectangular home a streamlined, uniform profile.
“Minima is part of our vision to democratize architecturally significant homes,” Bryant says. “It’s a simple, elegant, and functional design that can find a home in an infinite number of gardens, backyards and rural properties.”
Trias designed several versions of Minima to suit different needs. In addition to a single-bedroom unit, there’s also a double-module version with a T-shaped floor plan that can accommodate two bedrooms, living and dining areas, a kitchen, and a bathroom. “The wet areas, including the kitchen, are clustered to one side, with the bathroom tucked behind the kitchen wall,” Bryant explains.
When it came time to select a builder for Minima, the architects called upon Somersby-based Fabprefab. “Sustainable design and fabrication are fundamental to Fabprefab’s mission and to the design of Minima,” Bryant says. “It’s a well-known fact that the construction sector is a major contributor to carbon emissions worldwide. Minima proposes a more sustainable mode of living within its small-footprint design.”
To ensure that Minima would be as sustainable as possible, the design team specified low–VOC paints and stains, and a CLT facade. “The technique of cross laminating the panels gives each component greater structural strength and integrity, and allows manufacturers to rely on fast-growth timbers, which help with carbon capture and sequestration,” Bryant says.
The material also makes up the home’s walls, floor, and roof panels. “The natural timber finish that lines each Minima creates a warm, welcoming, and healthy environment for a range of uses,” says Bryant. “Cross-laminated timber is also ideal for prefabrication, and the overall benefits include substantially shorter construction times, less work on a building’s foundations, and far less waste.”