Gallery: PREFAB FRIDAY: Flatpack E-cube House


From beautiful British Columbia comes this entry to our Prefab Friday series. The E-cube from Jenesys Buildings and designed by Carsten Jensten Architects is a flat packed modular kit house that claims to be twice as energy efficient as a comparable house.

The E-cube comes in three standard designs from 1400 to 2200 square feet. They include features such as double glazed, argon filled, low E windows exterior sun screens and extremely well insulated roofs and walls. The residence is made out of 8 inch Structural Insulated panels for the walls which provide an R40 value and 6 inch SIPS for the roof with an extra 12 inches of insulation (R60).

The building floor plan provides for good cross ventilation and good solar control and passive heating. The design allows for some greener options such as an upgrade to triple glazed windows, a heat recovery ventilator and photovoltaic solar collectors. And as a recommended finish, the manufacturer recommends a green roof. Rainwater harvesting, dual flush toilets, energy star appliances and LED lighting fixtures complete the deal.

Overall the E-cube looks to be an attractive package for those of you looking for a nice prefabricated residence. There are a few nitpicks with the floor plans that we could bring up (bathroom right at the entrance? access to the furnace from the outside?) but those are details that can be easily fixed.

+Carsten Jensten Architects

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  1. Shawn Poirier February 19, 2008 at 11:21 am

    I quickly scanned this page. Couldn’t find this:

    WHERE ARE THESE PRE-FABS MADE? Are the going to start making it in Canada, then we’ll slowly see them come in on ships from China?

    I really hope this is a domestic product employing Canadians.

    Shawn Poirier
    CHUM Radio

  2. June 29, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Kindly give an idea of the mechanical details and other costs for a full and complete erection.


  3. Dr Joseph G Banks April 9, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    I am interested in a cube pre-fab house – but am not sure I can get planning permission in Newcastle upon Tyne or Numberland. Please send info on the company / houses and suggestions for securing planning permission. Thank you . Joe Banks

  4. Jason Loop April 2, 2007 at 4:17 am

    Recently I got back to sunny California from three months in Brazil… and I noticed one of the BEST things on the plans posted above was the location of the bathroom. Let me explain….. When I lived in San Diego my house was pretty clean, I’d just sort of wipe my shoes off on the way in the door, and in general, not get too dirty in the first place. Moving to Brazil I realized you have two options….

    1) dont worry about the mud and dirt that tracks into the house, a maid is only $150/month and she cleans it all up anyway, except one day per week when she has the day off and things get messy.

    2) well I did not think there was a second until I realized about 1/10th the dirt and mud would have gotten in the house in the first place had I put a bathroom by the entry.

    I’ve read this site for years without posting, and am happy to say I have due to noticing I do not need to sign up…. hard to believe that was the last thing holding me back – expect a lot more posts in the future – I plan to live in Hawaii for three months and then start getting into Sustainable Prefab Off-Grid Living in a much bigger way.

  5. J. April 1, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    It may be that some of the design – i.e. ungenerous window sizes, even on the south – is supposedly to counteract winter conditions in Canada (although not all parts of British Columbia gets snow) and northern parts of the U.S., but I don’t completely buy it.
    However, what really makes absolutely no sense, IMHO, is having a *flat roof* in any area that receives snow! Unless you *really* like snow shovelling, including your roof! Does anyone else remember hearing the news last (?) winter … when there were a number of buildings (one at least in Eastern Europe or Russia, and one or two in N.A.) where the roof caved in and lives were lost? What they all had in common was (1) flat roof; (2) lots of snow that year.

  6. Richie March 31, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    I kind of agree that the floorplans are not to impressive. Tthis whole design concept seems preempted by Michael McDonough’s ‘Arc-House’, which was on display as a full size model (erected out of SIP’s in just 3 days) at the Wired Magazine ‘NextFest’ (NYC, 2006) (see: ) What also seems missing from this design are SIP’s whose wooden panels are made from coconut palm & bamboo plywood. Also, McDonough’s ‘Arc-House’ design utilized bamboo ‘I-beams’ which are stronger than steel.

    I don’t feel strongly about the furture of pre-fab. I believe that new materials have made it possible to create ‘craftsman build’ houses that are great and cheapfrom component parts. There may soon come a day when architects will have more revenue coming in from stamping and signing off on ‘craftsman build’ personal dwelling projects than from creating personal use dwellings from scratch ? We’ll see.

  7. Loot March 31, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I would say a very well insulated house is the biggest part of being “green and sustainable.” Just because of the energy savings of the life of the building. But not new and exciting nor “greener than green,” if you will.

    People do love their cubes with corresponding flat roofs, if not this particular execution. I’m intrigued by them too, or I wouldn’t keep coming to this website. My own issue with flat roofs is the maintenance. If a flat roof goes neglected for a period of time, or longer, it can destroy the whole structure. OSB, drywall and many of the modern engineered materials don’t tolerate wetting well at all. This can lead to a very *unsustainable* situation, to say the least. I know something like EPDM is like the ultimate solution for flat roofs, or so I’ve heard. Also real expensive. Me, I’d rather have a shed roof, as back-up. Just because.

  8. Gary Beck, P.E., LEED AP March 31, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Definitely northern Canada with those assume combined solar PV-solar HW panels angled for the artic circle.

    It looks like a home a prefab engineer would design (I’m an engineer). A simple gravity loaded structure with very limited open spans and stacked windows that would be inexpensive to factory build and field construct using any structural system. But living in there?

    Maybe only fun for an engineer* because only an engineer would recognize that that those are actually thermally controlled bimetallic-spring actuated sliding window shades on the South side, and that the two hidden 500W urban-turbines pop up from behind the parapet wall only on windy days. Also that all the green roof garden deck scuppers are internal to the parapet wall and connected to the water wall storage cell hidden in the Garage/MEP room wall which is looped to the geothermal HVAC system’s heat pump located right next to the electric car + yard tool charging station snuggly located under the house maintenance work bench next to the peddle powered can-crusher+plastic-shredder feeding recycling hoppers.

    The real challenge of a ‘green’ home (prefab or not), is to combine an architectural designer’s unique skills (maybe needed here?…) with the tech and life skills of a green leaning engineer from design-day-one. This is the only way to create a cost effective to build-own-operate living space, pref-fab or not, that is daily-enjoyable, yearly-usable, lifetime-supportable, and always proud-to-invite-you-inside ‘own-able’.

    *“Green Homes – An Engineer’s Check List” (not a book – a free check list)

    Gary Beck, P.E., LEED AP
    Eco-Holdings LLC
    Houston, Texas

  9. Jorge March 30, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    Well, they are situated in Canada, so I’m guessing that they are a bit more concerned about the cold climate effects on the building rather than that of the lack of heat on the residence. Thus their probable reasoning for the lack of shading devices and highly insulated panels and windows. But then again, I’ve lived on hot weather all my life, so my assumptions could be wrong… Please feel free to correct me.

  10. The Revolution Corporation March 30, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Speaking of greenwashing… “…include features such as double glazed, argon filled, low E windows exterior sun screens and extremely well insulated roofs and walls.” Are double glazed, low E windows something special? Maybe ten years ago they were. I don’t see any sun screens… Maybe they have some mini-blinds inside. This is a bad Richard Meier immitation, with a dash of not quite neo-expressionism.
    Don’t you love how all these “green” & “sustainable” architects and developers put something like this together with cutting edge double glazed windows, and an opportunity to upgrade to triple glazed, heat recovery & a few photovoltaic panels on the roof? An architect designed house should be more forward thinking than this. It’s ugly, it’s a box, it has a 1987 floorplan, and it looks like it would be dark inside. Let’s put this one in the round file.

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