House Arc modular home assembled “like an IKEA house”


February 16, 2012

House Arc is a prefabricated off-the-grid housing solution that facilitates compact living

House Arc is a prefabricated off-the-grid housing solution that facilitates compact living

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House Arc, by Bellomo Architects, is a prefabricated off-the-grid housing solution that facilitates compact living. The project was originally designed as an environmentally sensitive and affordable method of housing that is not only functional but also attractive to the eye. Furthermore, it is designed to be easily packed and shipped to any location, where it can then be erected by the user or community. "We designed it to be a kit of parts that can be assembled quickly-like an IKEA house," says House Arc architect Joseph Bellomo.

The House Arc is designed to be flat-packed and shipped in a remarkably small box that measures 4 x 10 x 3 feet (1.2 x 3 x .95 meters). The lightweight base structure consists of a modular system of bent steel tubes that can easily be assembled on site. Constructing the low-impact home requires no special training and is similar to building modular furniture, with a kit of parts and an easy-to-follow, graphic installation manual. Upon assembly, the House Arc becomes a curvaceous 150 square-foot (14 square meter) home that weighs 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg). The house features large windows that allow natural light to filter through the dwelling. A shading trellis limits the amount of heat that can infiltrate inside the building and the raised structure allows air to flow underneath for cooling, whilst also maintaining the permeability of the site. The House Arc can withstand the elements, including tropical winds, and also features a roof designed to support solar energy-generation.

Optional additions to further enhance the sustainability of House Arc include the installation of solar photovoltaic panels and insulation that can be added between panels.

Whilst the House Arc would make an attractive backyard retreat, the lightweight and easy-to-construct house could also function as an emergency shelter. It is a primary focus of Bellomo Architects to develop the House Arc concept so it can be used to house people in devastated areas after a catastrophic event or to replace housing that was not built to withstand such forces. "We foresee the House Arc in locations such as Haiti and New Orleans" says Bellomo Architects.

We just hope that they will drop the US$65,000 price tag for such a noble cause!

The House Arc will be a featured prefab house at this year's Sunset Celebration Weekend in Menlo Park, California from June 2-3.

Sources: Bellomo Architects, Bike Arc

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

$433 per square foot is quite a premium for prefab.

Mark A

65 big ones, bit of a joke. Good luck selling them :)


you say house... I say shed.

Paul Hutchinson

A $65K garden shed.

It IS pretty, but on the other hand, there is no insulation whatsoever, or even all that much weatherproofing. There\'s also not much privacy.

Jon A.

Isn\'t this just a caravan with the wheels off?

Keith Reeder

Some government subsidy and presto, cheap housing for the poor of the world.

digi_owl insulation either? The materials don\'t warrant such a high cost. I think my AbleNook makes more sense, but then I may be biased...


Maybe if they didn\'t ship it flat, and actually built them on an assembly line they would be more reasonably priced. It would be easily transportable fully assembled.

Jon A.

ridiculous! where I live you can buy a decent 1,500 sq.ft. home for $65k... I imagine the people in \"impoverished\" areas suffering some kind of natural disaster will truly appreciate this... for that kind of coin it should come on wheels with a cat diesel pusher, slide outs, bathroom and kitchen...


in what world is this thing \"affordable housing\" unless you\'re thinking of using it as a pre-fab tree house in Beverly Hills. Don\'t think snow load would work well either. Pretty but nuts.


My first thought was Great!! Wouldn\'t it be nice to have one in a corner of a garden. Then i thought, what about a toilt and bath? Then i saw the price tag....


What?! for that kind of money you could get a fully furnished 30 foot Airstream Trailer Home - insulated, bathroom, kitchen, furniture, etc.

WOW. US$65,000 = FAIL


I\'ve seen buildings like this used as a sauna at Sam\'s Club for under $10k. They look pretty cool.

William Dean

My first thought was that it looks like a caravan, and a damned expensive one. $65k is insane for such a tiny dwelling, you can buy a 3 bedroom kit home for that price here.

Mr T

I could build a better house out of a single pickup load of suplys for a lot less. It would be better insulated as well.


I\'ll take the picture to the bank when I apply for the loan. I\'m sure that will speed up the whole process. What else could I buy with $65K? What else could I build for $65K?


The first house I bought, in Katy, TX, in 1991, was 1320 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 car garage, and cost $65K. For the $65K cost of this \"house,\" I could get a nice used travel trailer and a diesel pickup.

Joe Henderson

Nice idea- CRAZY PRICE!

20' re-habbed shipping containers would be cheaper and more durable.

Haitians may like these but I'm from New Orleans and I don't think these are likely to be very popular here....

They are too small and look REALLY flimsy.

People forget that after one storm often comes another- it was in Rita (after Katrina) that some of my friends suffered even more loss.

Crime is serious,afterwards,as well.

These look like they'd not stand up to a can opener.

Again- 20' shipping containers.


They should just sell the plans so people can make them without ordering the parts.

Jay Lloyd

It looks like it\'s be a great addition to the parks in Santa Monica CA.


It is really nice but not for the price they want. For emergencies? at that price? I guess the emergency would have to be in Beverly Hills to just the price.


If housing is to be accessible, as this article suggests, then the price point needs to be WAAAAAY lower. Like around $1800. Unless someone got their rates of exchange wrong.

Michael Barreto

Also from New Orleans, also lost stuff including house after the storm. Haiti & NO are port cities with plenty of containers available, but who wants to be in a steel box when its 95 during the day and 80 at night? The problem with this design and 99% of the new designs presented are they\'re made for areas that are occasionally hot & humid!! For real shelter how about a precut geodome made with structurally insulated panels (SIP)? After the storm I constructed an 8x12 shed that I purposely overbuilt for the next storm. Tools & materials ~$2,500, I could have insulated with a room A/C for less than a thousand more.


For 65k it should come with solar cells, wiring, hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen electolyzer and hydride storage tanks for six month backup. It should also include a composting toilet, methane generation system for food waste, desalinization system, and a water purification system. That MIGHT make it a viable emergency shelter or remote site shelter. It could also use a nice propane kicker for just in case stuff.

Skip Hague

Wow, a caravan without wheels for £40,000. A nice caravan, but still a caravan, and a tiny one.

Steve Smith

I could build this exact thing for a few grand, and the final product would be nicer. Except maybe for the imported bamboo walls! Looks like balsa!

James Palmer

The perfect house for people who have more money than sense.

David Austin

If Bill Gates has an emergency, he might want to buy a few dozen of these. For the rest of us, I'm afraid not. For a permanent structure that has a tiny ecological footprint, I suggest one of David South's little monolithic concrete/rebar cabins. These have excellent insulation, fire-protection, and are probably 100 times stronger and likely to last 50 times as long as this little fragile bon-bon.

Robert Monie

""Concept so it can be used to house people in devastated areas after a catastrophic event or to replace housing that was not built to withstand such forces. "We foresee the House Arc in locations such as Haiti and New Orleans" says Bellomo Architects.... What a joke .. Poor Haiti People you can have this house in 2000 years mortgage plan .


I think there are other emergency shelters that are not only more practical but also more affordable.

There is the Teal Modular System that can also be used as a shelter.


Where's the bathroom?

Stephen Shugart

it has a certain 'appeal' to its' facade,however it may be more efficient and habitable if it utililized an appropriate amount of greenhouse glazing, and interior privacy screening with a bit more square footage! i actually think this concept holds some promise at a more 'realistic' price point!

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