iO House the Space
Sustainable sophistication takes prefab to new heights
Over the last few years and in many countries around the world, so-called ‘tiny houses’ have become increasingly popular. At first sight, this evolution might feel counterintuitive: for decades, larger had been better. Spacious homes and apartments were widely seen as highly desirable, as the prerequisite of well-being, and as an indisputable sign of personal success.
Then, several lifestyle and social trends started to converge, transforming a former certitude into a debatable choice. Could it be that when fully considered - the constraints of a conventional lifestyle outweighed its benefits? Was a 30-year mortgage really the asking price for happiness? Didn’t possessions, all too often, end up in clutter? How sustainable were large homes when private housing accounts for about 25 % of global energy consumption? Wasn’t the combination of flexibility and freedom the real ultimate luxury?
‘Small is beautiful' and ‘Less is more’ had been around for a while. Now, their application to living space was rapidly gaining appreciation.
In the meantime, what had started as a sometimes crude and often spartan attempt to ‘beat the system’ and openly question social norms has matured into an elaborate alternative: displaying both creativity and a keen sense of design, mini-home concepts have been developed that are cosy, stylish, surprisingly functional and equipped with all the amenities of modern life.
The SPACE: it ticks all the boxes, and then adds a few more
With the SPACE, iOhouse, a company based in Stockholm, has made the idea of the tiny house even more disruptive than before. Combining Swedish design at its best with a stringent focus on sustainability, the architects and engineers at iOhouse have created an entirely prefabricated, self-contained, luxurious, and fully off-the-grid living unit. As such, its versatility and adaptability open completely new perspectives. In just 60m², the company has managed to integrate
- exquisite interior design all the way to the bed sheets and the cutlery,
- advanced smart-home functions,
- comfort without compromise – including air conditioning via a reversible heat pump,
- all the requirements of a completely off the-grid location, from solar panels to fresh water supply to a built-in sewage tank.
Mario Ojalo, the CEO of iOhouse, emphasises: “Our starting point was ambitious: to redefine modern living, no less. The SPACE is about reconnecting with Nature and behaving sustainably, yet without any sacrifice in terms of comfort and style. We have aimed at creating a piece of livable art that will work in the most diverse surroundings – including places that are off-limits for conventional dwellings, or where any other solution would be both prohibitive and highly detrimental to the environment. This is why we took up the considerable challenge of designing the SPACE as a truly off-the-grid solution”. He points out: “The SPACE is also an incremental improvement on compact prefabricated living units that were already on the market. It is more sophisticated, more luxurious, more elegant, more intelligent and more functional. But its off-the-grid capabilities are what makes it truly unique”.
Heliis Tiitma, iOhouse’s Sales Manager, adds: “What most of our clients have in common are a forward-looking approach to life and the genuine intention to live sustainably, in harmony with Nature – yet in a modern home, not a cabin. This client profile exists on all continents. Considering the involved logistics and the fact that we assemble the SPACE in Europe, we logically sell more units in the countries around us. But we get requests from everywhere, all the way to Australia and Central America”.
Trespa: a logical choice when quality and design are front and centre
Mario Ojalo thinks highly of Trespa: “We looked around for a cladding product that would live up to our concept: it was crucial to choose an exterior material that would convey the sophistication and the pioneering profile of the SPACE, meet our aesthetic expectations, and be sustainable in itself”. The latter criterium was all the more easily met as Trespa® panels contain 70% natural fibres and require less grey energy at the production stage than most competing products – for example fibre cement. In addition, they are particularly long-lasting and virtually maintenance-free, thus reducing even further their global impact on the environment”.
He continues: “Considering our priorities, the design component was equally important. When it comes to façade materials, Trespa belongs to just a few companies worldwide which manage to combine first-class product quality with an extremely wide range of design possibilities”.
Heliis Tiitma confirms: “We are a very demanding client. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, we have the simplest taste – we are only satisfied with the best. In this respect, it is worth mentioning that the service we receive from Trespa is just as outstanding as the products. The team at Trespa is highly motivated and works closely with us; even in the age of digital communications, this remains essential. To know that we are in good hands, that our exchanges will be productive and our expectations duly met – this is what matters at the end of the day”.
“When it came to explaining the product specs, to choosing the right panel size in order to minimise cutting losses and to giving us hands-on technical support, the team at Trespa did an excellent job”.
She sums up: “As far as company values are concerned, iOhouse and Trespa are, quite simply, a perfect match. Trespa has pioneered innovative building materials for half a century, and we are in the process of re-inventing the market for off-the-grid living. We both aim at high-end, original and beautiful solutions. Therefore, I think that underscoring our successful partnership is benefitting both companies”.
Sustainability and quality: a duo with a bright future
For its upscale, move-in ready SPACE units, iOhouse has chosen the Trespa® Meteon® panels. Heliis Tiitma explains: “In fact, the product itself and the level of service the Trespa team provided right away made it easy for us: almost immediately, we knew we had found what we were looking for. The visual qualities of the panels are obvious, and their durability is well-established. Both aspects are equally important, as the Trespa®Meteon® panels are an intrinsic part of our fully prefabricated living modules. We are confident that the cladding will keep looking great for many years”.
“Since SPACE is a high-end concept, we needed a similarly positioned, premium cladding product: Trespa®Meteon® has a refined look & feel that complements the SPACE concept ideally. We have chosen a finish from their Metallics collection: Graphite Grey M21.8.1. The colour is contemporary and elegant; in addition, we like the way the finish interacts with the incoming light to generate slightly different, subtle shades of grey”.
By prefabricating the SPACE modules, iOhouse has a control of quality parameters that would never be achievable on a building site. The advantages of the prefab concept are just as obvious when it comes to complying with regulations, including the requirements for high thermal efficiency – as everything can be thoroughly thought out and optimised beforehand. In addition, a conventional house is no match for the flexibility of a prefabricated module. Wherever its owner may relocate, it can relocate as well.
Heliis Tiitma brings it to the point: “Our world is in flux. Increasingly, compulsive consumption is a thing of the past: more and more people are looking for sustainable, intelligent, high-quality solutions. Sustainable products preserve the environment, which is a growing priority for the consumer, and quality is sustainable in itself, because in the long run, only durable products and enduring concepts are future-proof – and therefore truly sustainable.”
She concludes: “According to a recent McKinsey survey, the CEOs of manufacturing companies expect the trend towards ‘responsible’ consumption to intensify significantly as soon as the economy returns to normal. This includes big-ticket, durable items. Quality, Sustainability and Craftmanship are three of the five ‘Opportunity Keywords’ in another recent study, ‘2020 State of Luxury: the Insider View Report’. Obviously, at a time when people increasingly seek a more natural, and yet essentially ‘modern’ and stylish lifestyle, our SPACE concept is spot-on. In this respect as well, partnering with Trespa was the right decision: the Trespa®Meteon® panels help make our focus on quality, innovation and design immediately obvious”.