A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
What is it?
A shipping container-sized unit that expands to a double-storey, 800 square foot house... with a garden in the roof! The design uses a set of bespoke brackets to simplify the construction for DIY assembly, with the rest of the structure comprised of structural timber and standard off-the-shelf materials and components to make it as affordable as possible.
Why a folding tiny house?
“I loved the idea of the tiny house lifestyle, and minimalism by necessity, but I wanted more living space. Also I wanted to design something that goes beyond a tiny house just being a smaller version of traditional housing – I wanted to be able to make water, grow food and recycle waste all under one roof – to provide a completely self-sufficient, mobile, off-grid solution.”
Richard Perkin - Project founder
Space – there is enough space in the NoHA BiOS not to feel claustrophobic. There are two rooms downstairs and two upstairs, each 20ft by 10ft (6m x 3m), with a ceiling height of 7ft (2.2m) downstairs and a ceiling height tapering from 8ft (2.4m) at the centre to 5ft (1.5m) at the eves. There’s also an open plan kitchen and a simple bathroom with ample space – and these two areas provide a reasonable amount of storage for furniture and belongings when the structure is folded down for transport. If living a mobile lifestyle, restrictions on storage space inspire a minimalist lifestyle, which was part of the intent of the design. Obviously there could be additional storage space afforded by a tow vehicle, but the point was to have a bigger tiny house with a feeling of space, rather than one that was filled with a whole lot of clutter!
Mobility – if you don't like the idea of being tied to one place, put it on the back of a truck and go somewhere new whenever you like... this is one aspect of tiny houses that has made them so popular.
Affordability – be that for a primary residence, a secondary suite on an existing property, a holiday house or an office. While zoning laws and building codes may prohibit one or more of these uses in some areas, growing interest in the tiny house movement has meant increased support for the revision of these laws to accommodate the changing social and economic landscape. After all, not everybody has the means or desire to live in traditional housing these days. The cost of the NoHA BiOS (without any internal systems/finishes) is around US$20,000 based on a DIY build… pretty affordable compared to traditional housing of a similar size!
Low-impact living – sure, there might not be flushing toilets and unlimited water and electricity, but a lot of utilities are needlessly wasted in traditional housing and urban lifestyles. It is surprising just how little energy and water is actually needed to maintain a good standard of living when you become aware of what you are using and how to use it efficiently. Solar power systems are increasingly affordable, and one of the goals for the project is to design a solar-powered water generator that condenses water vapour from the air just about anywhere, to provide the option of being completely independent. Presently there is also a vast amount of food wastage across the world, let alone the energy wasted in producing, storing and transporting that food. Growing most or all of your own fruit and vegetables means getting the freshest produce and knowing where it's come from, while also encouraging less wastage. The vision for the NoHA BiOS is to design a growing system for the roof of the house that can provide fruit, vegetables and herbs for a family of four, all year round.
Sustainability and independence – To be able to make water from thin air (anywhere that there's sunshine), to be able to grow your own food where you live and to recycle all your waste and water... now that would be a truly sustainable and indepedent way of life. Realistically, how much longer can existing infrastructure and systems support increasingly resource-intensive urban ways of living? If there’s going to be much of a planet left for future generations, lifestyles will need to change to become less about consumption and convenience, and more about efficiency and necessity.
What’s behind it?
One mechanical engineer, a dream, two years’ of design and simulation work, and three months of hard labour to build the prototype.
Why pledge now?
I’ve spent pretty much all of my personal savings on designing and building the prototype. I need additional funding to finish cladding the structure, and for components and materials to complete the kitchen, bathroom and rooftop garden.
The funding target reflects the minimum amount I need to finish the house, and to produce the necessary documentation for the plans and assembly instructions (otherwise I’ll have to go back to work, and then I won’t have the necessary time available).
If the target is exceeded, then any additional funds will be used for further development of the design of the structure and the interior systems, with a view to making these designs available (for DIY) for a nominal charge, or bringing them to market as products in the most affordable way possible. Initially, this could mean building a second prototype – a “production unit” – which will incorporate design improvements that were identified during the construction of the first prototype, in order to make the structure lighter, easier to assemble and more affordable. Based on people’s feedback, the design for a second prototype might be reduced in size to a standard shipping container height (rather than the “hi-cube” format used for the first prototype, which is a foot taller than a standard shipping container). I welcome any and all feedback and suggestions, which can be submitted through the website – www.noha.life
Though I’ll endeavour to ship the physical rewards (beaded keyring, illustration print, desk tidy) earlier than the September 2017 date specified, I have allowed this leeway because I will be the one coordinating their production and shipping, and during the first half of the year I will be very busy completing the shell and interior of the prototype, as well as preparing the documentation for the plan and assembly instruction set. So the delivery for the physical rewards could be as early as April 2017, but I will post updates here and on the website (www.noha.life) to keep backers informed of progress.
The production of documentation for the plan and assembly instruction set is already underway, as some of the material has been produced in the process of designing and building the prototype. However, getting the documentation into a complete, clear and concise specification – with all the information necessary for a DIY build - will require a significant number of man-hours. I have a lot of experience producing specifications in my work as a professional engineer, so I am well placed to assess the work involved and the amount of time required to finish the documentation package. I feel a delivery date of September 2017 will give me sufficient time to produce a high quality plan and assembly instruction set.
Check out the full story and follow the progress at www.noha.life!
Risks and challenges
With the prototype already working mechanically according to design, there is no real risk with regard to proving functionality. At this stage, the only risks that can be identified in the development going forward are:
– Weather sealing interfaces between panels
This should be quite easy to complete, so can be considered a low risk. The roof and side panels overlap each other so that rain will run off, but the roof panels for the rooftop garden will need a flexible flashing strip installed around the perimeter to direct rainwater away from the top frame. Similarly, the mating surfaces between all the gable end panels will need gasket material applied to make the joints weatherproof. Gaps bewteen the upper gable end panels/windows and the upper central frame (you can see these in the photos) will also need to be closed with rigid or canvas filler panels.
– Air tightness
This is important for the thermal performance of the structure, though initially less critical than weatherproofing. There are openings at floor level to allow for passive cooling in hot weather, so these will need flaps fitted to seal the space in colder weather. This should be a straightforward element to complete, so is seen as low risk.
– Structural strength
At this stage, the strength of the design has been assessed for a wind speed of 60mph (100 km/h) and has a good factor of safety. Some modelling has been carried out up to wind speeds of 100mph (160km/h), but additional work is required to properly assess the behaviour of the structure under these loads. While there are construction standards for traditional mobile homes, there are currently no such standards for tiny houses - only guidelines. One such guideline for tiny houses is conformity to ASCE/SEI
7–10 (Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures), which recommends the structure be designed and built to withstand a wind speed of 130mph (210km/h), in addition to other combinations of applied loads. Due to the geometry of the design, increasing the strength of the structure can not easily be acheived by increasing the thickness of the structural members - this would require a complete redesign of the folding geometry, and would reduce the space available for essential services in the centre of the structure (bathroom, kitchen rooftop garden etc.). For this reason, the only practical measures, in order of preference, are:
- Stating a limit of usage on the structure for a wind speed of 60mph (100km/h) or whatever the maximum safe wind speed is finally determined to be, preferably through practical testing of a prototype or production structure.
- Using stronger materials for structural members. However, using materials like steel would likely make the structure too heavy to be easily transportable (towable), and using lighter materials such as titanium would increase the cost of the structure significantly.
- Reducing the size of the structure. For instance, changing the form factor to standard ISO container dimensions (rather than using the "hi-cube" dimensions used for the prototype) could be done quite simply, and would reduce the area of all panels, thereby reducing the forces on the structure for a given wind speed, as well as reducing bending stresses in the panels (due to shorter structural members).
While it is desirable to certify the structure for as high a wind speed (and combined inner loading) as is possible, initially the approach will be to set a cautious limit on the structure - say 60mph (100km/h). This means that there will be no immediate risk to the delivery of the plan and instruction set as part of this kickstarter. With further development, modelling and prototype testing, it should be possible to increase the safe usage limits in future.
An 8 x 10 inch, mounted (white board), high-resolution, black and white digital print of an illustration of the NoHA BiOS. This was a commissioned work for the project, beautifully sketched by Richard Kyriakides. (http://www.richardkyriakides.com/portfolio-wexley/)
Wooden desk organiser in the same shape as the NoHA BiOS, with a white gloss finish. Compartments for post-it notes, stationery, or whatever you like! May be flat-packed for postage, requiring simple assembly.
All the information needed to build your own NoHA BiOS! A digital copy of the full specification, including part and assembly drawings, electrical drawings, bill of materials, timber cutting list, list of coatings and finishes and assembly instructions. Any future revisions of this documentation set will be made available to backers for no additional cost. The only non-standard parts required for the construction are the set of brackets, for which manufacturing drawings will be provided, allowing the parts to be fabricated either by an engineering shop or a proficient DIY welder. To make things easier, the bracket set will be made available for purchase in the US and UK by the end of 2017.