Compact Prefab Home by Dave Strachan

A small prefab holiday home has beautiful sea view and is located near Onemana Beach. The dwelling is clad in plywood and vertical timber battens and completed in Resene’s Lumbersider paint in Foam.

Creative and talented architecture students helped a family from New Zealand to make their dream about their own house come true.

Andrew and Shiree Morrison took a vacation for over decade every summer, they spent their time in Onemana, a town on the shore of North Island in New Zealand. Usually the stay in a small trailer, they always dream to build their own house on the sloping plot of land, but the budget set limits and they could not realize desired plan. Then the old family friend, builder John Cocks, marketed ingenious idea for solving the difficulties they confronted. He suggested collaborating with architecture students for building the dream house, because the Morrisons could afford it.

Dave Strachan from Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology leads Studio 19, a program, which helps students to work in a real-world architectural project through every step. It is one year long and it helps students to grow in experience from client brief to full-scale building. This program is not first for Strachan; he also modeled Studio 804, a program in the University of Kansas, and Rural Studio at Auburn University, the program that he greatly admires. Dave said it was a Kiwi version of that. Four teams took part in this program and took orders from four clients. Their task was to form a plan, to adapt design, to file all needed permits, to build the house on-campus and then to deliver it to the point of destination. The students already had their own prefab factories for 12 months.

The Morrison family wanted something compact and not very expensive, but with unique design, the house that differs from other houses in this area. Andrew said all of houses in their neighborhood are similar, they are with a standard-pitch roof, the same joinery, the same cladding, windows in the same place. They wanted to be distinctive, but not to the point where it stuck out like a sore thumb.

The house at 807 square feet is a delicate matter. Strachan, the Morrison and Cocks worked hard in every detail to make the design of house special and convenient for life at the seaside. Hidden storage beneath the sofa in living room can be used as beds for the guests. The floor of the house is level about 270 square feet with outdoor decks for a seamless transition between indoors and out. There is a shower at the deck; it is very convenient especially for family after beach walks and for Andrew, as he likes to surf, and that reduces tracking sand in the house. Fresh air permeates every room with the help of louvered windows, which are placed above the interior doors. Picturesque scenery is seen from the corner of the living room – a great engineering work.

At the beginning of creating project the Morrisons were indifferent to prefab, they neither for nor against it. And they were skeptical about the design. But after the family saw the result of the architects’ work their opinion changed, because the prefab was built quickly and just about $112 per square foot. After the building was finished everybody was satisfied of the delightful done work that can get an A+.

Design: Dave Strachan, Unitec Institute of Technology
Area: 807 square feet (75 sq m)
Year: 2013
Location: New Zealand



For solving the problem of difficult building topography the designers used piers for elevating the house.

To the deck, which flanks the kitchen and dining room, you can get through the sliding glass doors that made from Viridian’s ComfortPlus glass and yellow cedar wood.

The custom kitchen is equipped by Miele dishwasher, Mitsubishi refrigerator and a cookpot by Baumatic. Also there are the cabinets that are covered with laminate and the countertops, which are made from a stainless steel.

Tim Webber is a creator of the dining tables’ and stools’ design.

The floor and ceiling slats in the kitchen are made from Eucalyptus.

The bunk beds and the living room sofa were designed by the architect Dave Strachan with the Unitec students. And there is Interface carpet squares.