The empty spaces of disused and derelict buildings can exude a sense of potential. Of course, bringing these blank canvases back to life typically requires a lot of work, but architecture and design firm Kraaijvanger is seeking to eliminate a chunk of that work with its Hub modular kitchen and bathroom block.
The Hub was initially designed for a competition run by the Havensteder housing association in 2015 as part of its centenary celebrations. The competition asked participants: "how will we live in the future?" Kraaijvanger's design was the winning entry, with its focus on simplicity and efficiency.
In essence, the Hub takes all of the key amenities required in a home and condenses them into one 15-sq m (161-sq ft) prefabricated unit. Constructed using high pressure laminate blockboard, solid-core board and Lamello connectors, the unit contains a kitchen, a bathroom with a toilet, plus heating, a sound system and an internet connection.
The utilities contained within the Hub are connected to the existing electrics and plumbing of a building via a single point for piping and wiring in its base. The self-contained and prefabricated design means that one of the units can be installed in just a few days, allowing empty indoor spaces to be quickly turned into homes or even offices.
Supplementary Hubs are also available. The first Hub, for example, was installed in January in the Zomerhofkwartier district of Rotterdam and is accompanied by a "Bedhub," which provides a place to sleep. Other possibilities, Kraaijvanger says, might include a Hub tailored towards growing vegetables indoors, a "solar-HUB" with PV panels and a power wall, or a "techno hub" containing technical equipment.
Kraaijvanger says the idea is for Hubs to be rented or leased, rather than bought outright, allowing them to be maintained and reused elsewhere when they are no longer needed.
With one prototype Hub now built, the company is currently looking at improving the design before making it available to buy, initially in the Netherlands only. No price has yet been set.