You can erect a prefab shed in a remote field, but that doesn't make it a house. Mercifully, Nathan Buhler of BLDG Workshop and Evan Bare of 608 Design are more circumspect when it comes to their collaborative effort, the Bunkie. Talking to Gizmag, Buhler said that he thinks of the design more as a large product than as small-scale architecture. Effectively a spare room you can put in your yard, we think that's bordering on understatement.
"We started with the Bunkie as a medium to experiment in ideas that cross boundaries between architecture and furniture design," Buhler explained. Like furniture, Bunkie will be factory-built and assembled on site. Less like furniture, you can sleep in it comfortably without getting drenched or poked by a mustelid.
Built, a Bunkie has footprint of 12.5 by 8.5 ft (3.8 by 2.6 m) and stands about 11 ft (3.4 m) high. That gives the Bunkie an area of 106.25 sq ft, which is under the 108 sq ft threshold for building without planning permission under the Ontario Building Code, Buhler informs us. (Both Buhler and Bare operate out of Toronto.)
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The wooden frame for each Bunkie will be precision-cut using a computer numerical control (CNC) router, which is not unusual when prefabricating or precision-building with the material (see our articles on the WikiHouse and Solar House 2.0). The frame can then be clad with plywood and barn board, or indeed other materials. "Everything can be built in a factory and shipped on site for final assembly," Buhler said.
Bunkie is designed to be multi-purpose, and includes what the designers describe as three distinct "modes" – sleep, play and open. In sleep mode, two queen-sized wall beds flip down to turn the Bunkie into a makeshift dormitory. One folds out from the main wall of the Bunkie, while, cunningly, the other folds out from the pitch of the roof above, creating a sort of queen sized bunk bed arrangement with the top bunk accessed by ladder. A folding table and chairs are secreted in another wall, and can be removed for use in play mode. Open mode is simply use of the whole space, "for meditation, yoga, reading, etc." Buhler suggests, though I'm thinking Twister or Swingball at this point.
Finally, because the front and back faces of the Bunkie are composed of glass, you can basically see through it, so your view of your backyard's rear fence needn't be completely ruined.
Buhler and Bare hope to launch the Bunkie next year, and costs and likely lead times at this point are not entirely clear. The Bunkie in the renders is near top spec, though cheaper models, with fewer bells and whistles, will also be available.