This prefab concept house, Mini40, comes out of Austria and has a slant towards the increasingly popular Passiv-Hausdesign method, which promotes a very tight and low-energy design. Hailing from Innsbruck, architect Mario Handle designed this passive home so that it doesn’t require any conventional heating. In fact, in good solar locations, it could be completely off-grid, powered by photovoltaics. The Mini40 was also designed to be constructed with modular parts, and reminds us a little bit of Werner Sobek’s modular homes, although the Mini40 has a slightly warmer aesthetic. And with just as many variations as Sobek’s homes, including the Mini60, Mini80 and Mini120, the concept can be expanded to become a larger-sized home or even multi-family housing.

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In most locations, the Mini40 would require about €200 per year in heating costs to run a heat exchanger that heats both the air and water. In sunnier locations, a photovoltaic system could take care of all electricity costs, making the Mini40 a net-zero home. The module itself is built from austrian larch, a local wood, which is then insulated with recycled cellulose. The front facade is a fully-glazed wood frame with three levels of glass and then framed with black slabs. Black steel tubing accents the front entrance.

The Mini40 is the core module for this prefab home concept and multiple units can be combined to create larger homes. The Mini80 requires 2 modules and the Mini120 uses 3 modules. Prefabrication is handled by a local wood builder and is delivered in 2-3 parts. Handler hopes to have a couple of these homes built sometime in 2010 and is currently working on a module that would allow the home to be delivered inside a shipping container.