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The Warsaw Voice » Other » May 28, 2008
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The Dodo: Home of the Future?
May 28, 2008   
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Homes made from steel are the future for people building their own houses, according to American pundits. These domiciles can be erected almost anywhere without concreters, bricklayers or plasterers and have the added advantage of being ergonomic. They are already starting to spring up in Poland.

Alive as a Dodo
Designer Zbigniew Kucharuk, a graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology, says he came up with the idea of the "Dodo"-one such modular, energy-efficient house-while combating boredom. The Dodo bears some resemblance to a polar station, or even an outer space station. Less charitable commentators have likened it to an upmarket portable building, and even a cross between a garage and a dumpster. But love it or hate it, the Dodo looks like a house you could take for a spin around the world.

Home buyer's dream?
The Dodo is constructed from lightweight steel and can be built to any size thanks to its modular design. The walls and ceilings are made of multi-layered sheeting. Kucharuk claims that the Dodo is a home buyer's dream. Once you've decided how big you want your home to be and what sort of fittings you want, all you need to do is sign on the dotted line and put down the deposit. You can move in six to 13 weeks after obtaining a building permit. The Dodo is constructed off site and can be erected virtually anywhere. The building only needs to be assembled on site, which takes around nine days for a 250 sq m building. All the steel parts are specially galvanized and numbered so that they only need to be assembled in the right order. This will be at least 12 months less than the time taken to construct a traditional home and is cost effective as well.

Energy saving
The Dodo uses renewable energy and is insulated against demanding weather conditions. The house comes with a water purification system so it does not need to be connected to mains sewerage. You can also use water from your own well thanks to a hydrophore unit. Solar panels will heat the water for free regardless of ambient temperature. Yet heat pumps are the most effective solution for Poland. "Houses can be heated or cooled using air-to-air, or the more modern air-to-water heat pump systems," says the designer, explaining that these can "squeeze out" 22 degrees Celsius or more from an ambient temperature of minus 20. "The former device heats the interior of the house with warm air while the latter heats water and reheats the heaters."

The future
There is nothing new about nomadic housing, at least not in Switzerland, Germany or Australia. But the Dodo stands out from the crowd of McMansions and mock log cabins on offer in Poland. Energy self-sufficiency is the long-term plan but this is being frustrated by Polish energy legislation which protects monopolies by prohibiting domestic users from generating energy using renewable sources. Despite these restrictions, the Dodo can produce warm water eight months of the year and the heat pumps pay for themselves three times over.

While the Dodo has been generating a lot of interest, purchasers have mostly been keeping their hands in their pockets so far. The jury is still out on whether the Dodo will take flight in Poland.

Krzysztof Jendrzejczak
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