December 1, 2008 The appeal of regularly relocating where we live probably comes from our nomadic origins as a species, and over the years we’ve thrilled at the possibilities of some remarkable constructs designed to enable just that: the Icosa Pod, miniHome, Free Spirit Sphere, Nackros Villa, LoftCube, Trilobis, Kitahaus, and the relocatable sphere house. New Zealand is one of those countries where its near-to-no-one geographic location has created a hotbed of innovation through necessity and the Kiwi-produced Port-a-bach is particularly inventive because it is based around a remanufactured shipping container. As such, the NZD$100,000 (US$55,000) fold-out dwelling is not just rugged due to its natural steel exoskeleton, it’s as easy to transport internationally as it is to transport locally on a standard container truck. It has low environmental impact and can connect to local utilities or be entirely power, water and sewer independent.

Firstly, if you’re not familiar with the word Bach (pronounced Batch), it’s colloquial Kiwi terminology originally derived from “Batchelor Pad” and relates to the small modest structures used as beach houses and holiday homes scattered across New Zealand’s picturesque landscape.

We think the Port-a-bach is something much more than that as it offers many possibilities beyond the remarkable list of relocatable homes above. For starters, it’s the perfect home for a disaster situation – for instance, the world’s largest container ship could carry nearly 8000 fully assembled, off-the-grid Port-a-Bachs, each providing a cabin 6.1 meters by 2.4 meters and capable of sleeping four adults in comfort, or many more depending upon the modular design. The designers, Cecille Bonifait and William Giesen of Atelier workshop in Wellington, opted for extra height of a 2.8 meter tall container instead of the standard 2.2 meter height.

All that’s required is 40 square meters of relatively flat ground and six concrete pads to serve as foundations.

“If we were to manufacture specifically for a natural disaster scenario, we’d use a different set of modules inside the container”, Bonifait told Gizmag.

The company originally planned to manufacture in China, and the first prototype was indeed constructed in China, but “we just could not get the quality we required there and we hav now opted to manufacture the containers entirely in New Zealand to ensure we can have the finish and quality we require”, said Bonifait.

“We can also manufacture specifically to specific requirements,”, she said. “If for example, you wanted to have no kitchen and more beds, or the complete sustainable unit with solar panels and all modern conveniences, we can work to any specification.’

“The NZ100,000 price is for the basic unit, and we have a broad range of modular designs for different needs."

Contact Atelier Workshop here, and check out this short clip which appeared on New Zealand's Channel 3 about the product here.