Prestige prefab

Modscape raises the style stakes
by toby Horrocks


We start with a fully welded steel frame. It is seriously over-designed when it ends up at its destination


odscape have been selling prefabricated houses for three years and sit proudly at the

prestige end of the market. “We are not just about meeting the minimum,” says director Jan Gyrn. “We start with a fully welded steel frame. It is seriously over-designed when it ends up at its destination.” The Modscape steel frame makes the houses robust and portable. Frames get an instant cyclone rating and can stack as high as six or seven storeys. The frames can also cantilever (overhang) two or three metres without needing a supporting column. Their standard footing is a steel screw pile, which minimises site disruption and doesn’t need any concrete or termite treatment.

What is a screw pile? A screw pile is a deep foundation that, as its name suggests, is screwed into the ground, rather as a timber screw is screwed into a plank. The benefit of using pile foundations over shallow “slab” foundations is that they are generally quicker to install and require less soil to be removed. Screw piles, moreover, do not need to go as deep as driven piles and also cause fewer vibrations during installation.

The walls, floor and ceiling of Modscape houses comprise two metal skins with a high-density polystyrene core for insulation. The polystyrene compensates for one of the main drawbacks of lightweight construction – low insulation values – but does pose the problem of waste and recyclability. Jan Gyrn says Modscape have gotten around this by sending waste polystyrene to China, to come back as plastic chairs. North and west walls are designed with an air gap for additional insulation, and the gap doubles as a recess for north-facing sliding glass doors. The resulting R values are impressive: the roof is R5.7, walls are R3.7, and the floor is R2.5.

Modscape’s Merricks house was delivered with 13 trucks and 25 workers, and installed in 13 hours



Merricks residence
Designer Location Project type Cost Modscape Merricks, VIC Prefabricated house $550,000

Photography Peter Glenane

Strand-woven bamboo flooring, used throughout the home, is dense and hard wearing

• Bluescope Corrugated Zincalume 8800L rainwater tank

• Austral insulated panel R3.7 and Aircell R2.0

• Futura ceiling fans

• Recycled blackbutt timber from Urban Salvage • Embeltons strandwoven bamboo flooring The Merricks house was delivered with 13 trucks and 25 workers; 13 hours later it was fully installed, with services connected the next day. The homeowners were delighted. “We’d done big renovations before, and the savings in time, effort and hassle with prefabrication are amazing.”

• Philips Lumiled LEDs

• Berger Breath Easy low-VOC paints