Big World Homes

  • 2017

  • Product
    Hardware and Building

Designed By:

  • Alexander Symes Architect
  • Arup Structural Design
  • Unique Caravan Conversion

Commissioned By:

Big World Homes

Designed In:


A Big World Home is a modular, mobile, off-grid housing system made from structural-thermal-waterproof integrated panels. We have designed the worlds first flat-pack home with integrated services that’s ordered online, arrives flat-packed and can be built by two people over a few days using simple tools, making incredible savings on labour.

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  • The form of the first big world home follows the Function of creating sustainable affordable housing for all. Our mission was to design the worlds first flat packed DIY home with integrated services that could be safety assembled and as such its current form most definitely follows this function. We have produced the first proof-of-concept (aka "the Ella") and are currently undergoing a co-design process where guests are living in "the Ella" and providing feedback to create the brief for our first release limited edition Tiny House. A functional aesthetic has been deliberately implemented that exposes the structure and services to communicate the uniqueness of the product.

  • Understanding how someone will function in a compact home is the most important element to get right requiring designing duel use spaces and everything needs to perform more than one function. Why no one has ever created a flat packed structural thermal waterproof system before is perhaps that its not an easy thing to do! To be a safe system to install it needs to be light, which contrasts with its structural capacity. In additional adding thermal performance adds more weight and then designing a DIY system that creates a robust waterproofing assembly is a complex task. We are happy to say that after much prototyping we have achieved these functional requirements and thats not even mentioning the services!

  • Unfortunately the construction industry is not the safest of workplaces. Part of the minimum design requirements of designing the worlds first DIY flatpack thermal structural waterproof building envelope system was that the erection team never had to work of a scaffold or ladder on the outside of the building, nor work off the roof reducing the risks associated with falls from heights. This is achieved via an internal scaffold system that is temporarily installed as the structure goes up and is supported by the cross bracing elements.

  • Stewardship: Through engagement with operational energy, water and waste systems this pedagogical learning will hopefully empower occupants to increase their environmental awareness outside of the home to respect the worlds resources. Closed loop material systems: The structure is predominantly timber to reduces embodied energy and is made with screw and bolt connections to allow for design for disassembly and recycling. Off-grid Living: The power is combination of offered PV with battery back up and interchangeable gas elements for peak loads. Water is collected from the roof and feed to the potable water tanks that then feeds the basin, sink, shower, washing machine and flush toilet.

    The Big World Home has been designed specifically for design for manufacture and assembly using Structural Plywood for a robust quality timber engineered product. A price point has not been set yet for the first limited edition product. The proof of concept cost 65K including: trailer, potable water tanks, grey water tanks, black water tank, instantaneous hot-water unit, automatic change over 2 tank gas supply, Batteries for PV system, pumps and labour for the connection of all below trailer services, fridge, washing machine, toilet, shower, stove, sink, basin, cnc'ed plywood, insulation, cladding, pre-wired EDB and solar panels. It is hoped that via mass production this cost can be reduced considerably.

    Big World Homes business model is the develop DIY building solutions that are designed with integrated services that can be applied to local conditions globally. The difference between Big World Homes and most new pre-fab builders is that we don't have a factory, we have IP around the patented structural thermal waterproof system that can be applied to suit local conditions in combination with integrated services as required for that specific product. Products currently under development include granny flats, medical centres in 3rd world villages and manufactured homes.

    The innovation of Big World Homes is the structural thermal waterproof building envelope panel. To create this panel has required 2 years of prototyping using a 6-tool change CNC machine integrated with off-the shelf products. Big World Communities is a not-for-profit that works in partnership with developers, councils, community groups and individual landowners to locate off-grid home owner communities on unused land.