Building space is increasingly at a premium in central Beijing and even cramped apartments can fetch a small fortune, but China's People's Architecture Office (PAO) recently completed a new home for a first-time buyer for just US$10,000. Based on the firm's patented prefabricated panel system, Mrs. Fan's Plugin House was assembled by a small team in just a few hours, but has the potential to be constructed by a couple of unskilled people in as little as 24 hours using a single hex key.
Mrs. Fan's Plugin House was commissioned by a young woman who wanted to live in her parents' former courtyard house, but the existing home was very dilapidated, cramped and dark. PAO partly knocked down the old structure and inserted the new prefab to expand what was left. So, though it could serve as a standalone home, in this case it's really an extension and renovation.
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The home is based on the same prefab technology used in the Plugin Tower and comprises modules with insulation, interior and exterior finish, wiring and plumbing all squeezed into one molded part. The modules attach to each other with an integrated locking system tightened by hex key.
According to PAO, constructing the basic home (not including the furniture, etc) can be tackled by a couple of untrained people within 24 hours.
PAO says that the $10,000 total cost makes the home around 30 times cheaper than a typical Beijing apartment. It's not clear if this takes into account the existing land and the dilapidated home which was used as a base, but either way it's definitely inexpensive.
The interior floorspace measures 27.8 sq m (299 sq ft) and includes a double-height lounge and kitchen, a nice little roof deck, and carefully-placed glazing to ensure ample natural daylight. The local area has no sewage system, so while most homes make use of shared public toilets, PAO inserted a composting toilet and shower.
The unusual shape of Mrs. Fan's Plugin House is informed by the need to not disrupt the neighbors view and ventilation and even as it was being built, neighbors asked for changes to be made on the spot, which were duly carried out.
The video below shows some more information on the project.