Dutch company G3 Spaces presents the UnFold, an expandable bungalow of 64 square metres in size. When folded, it is the size of a container. This makes the building easy to move around so it can be placed anywhere the owner wishes.
The UnFold fills a niche for people who want mobile, yet luxurious accommodation. The first example, which the company presented yesterday in Zaandam, is now going on a promotional tour through Dubai, where its locations will include the desert.
Bas Redhead, G3 Spaces Brand Manager, thinks his expandable house represents the future. 'As a luxury office or lounge space that you can put anywhere, this design is unequalled', he said during the demonstration. The company even refers to 'total mobility' and uses that as a unique selling point.
The UnFold actually looks really neat in practice too. A container (6 m long and 3 m wide) expands in just a few minutes into a complete house, including a façade with windows and a wooden floor. There is even a partially complete interior on the inside: the demonstration model features two toilets, a reception area and a lounge space, with easy chairs and a coffee table.
The house expands using controls on the trailer. It stands on eight support struts, four in the middle and four at the edges. Once in place, the trailer is then lowered and towed away by a truck. This means you don't need a crane to load or unload the heavy unit (49 tons of steel).
Combined with the ingenious construction of its unfolding hinges, this large volume of steel makes the whole structure stronger than a standard pop-up building or construction cabin. All of this contributes to the luxury image that G3 Spaces wants to endow this invention with.
The dwelling is not entirely self-sufficient. To operate 'off-grid' completely, an extra container-sized unit is needed. This supplies Wi-Fi, power and other facilities required for a comfortable life. Such a unit allows you to live for four days entirely self-reliant. The facilities container runs on a generator that requires fuel, but also has solar panels to supply extra energy.
The initial idea for the unfolding system was the brainchild of David Martyn of British engineering consultancy Ten Fold. 'I saw a truck driving along the road and thought: just how much room can you fit in there? After a whole load of calculations and drawings, we eventually arrived at a rough version of what you see here.' Martyn mainly hopes that the concept will be used to make housing affordable for young people. 'There is so much demand for accommodation, but young people are barely able to afford a house. Maybe this will be the solution.' However, it's not yet a realistic proposition – although nobody wanted to elaborate on costs, the UnFold is still beyond the reach of private individuals. But over the longer term, there are possibilities for manufacturing this building in series to reduce costs. Even then it's still unsure whether it will truly be affordable.
G3 Spaces is therefore currently focusing on the commercial world. And particularly on wealthier businesses. The expandable dwelling is not practicable or cost-efficient for festivals or construction sites. 'The main benefit is the relatively small space it requires, and the flexibility when locating the unit.'
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