At various times in the six years I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve covered new kinds of housing, such as a home that measures less than 11 square feet, a 10 story building that went up in just 48 hours, and a residence that is entirely under water.
All of these living arrangements had obvious drawbacks, such as, respectively, no room for your big-screen TV; nagging thoughts about how long it would take the building to come down; and sharks on the patio.
Now there’s a British company called Ten Fold Engineering that promises to deliver a building that can erect itself in just 10 minutes, and that looks as though you may actually want to live in it.
Here’s how it works: A truck rolls up with this huge box on it, and then the box starts sprouting accordion-like extensions that turn into rooms, stairs, windows and so forth, just like an architectural Transformers robot, except without Michael Bay to blow everything up afterwards. It also develops legs so that the truck can simply roll out from underneath it, leaving you with a new home, or beach cottage, or warehouse, or office building. Also, they can give a whole new meaning to the term “pop-up store.”
Check out the video on Ten Fold’s website. It demonstrates exactly how fast and easy it is to assemble your house, as long as your millennial children don’t try to take selfies in front of their new home while it‘s unfolding. (“Mom, Jessica’s stuck in the bathroom floor! Can I Instagram it?”)
According to Ten Fold, “the interchangeable pod system allows you to incorporate almost any combination of folding partitions and equipment to suit any purpose.” So, for example, if you wanted to open an instant media production studio, it could unfold complete with satellite array, electronics and a full staff of unpaid interns.
It’s unclear whether the dwellings come fully furnished, but I doubt it, since the starting price is only about $128,000. So you’ll have to go to Walmart and get some furniture. I’m thinking folding chairs would be appropriate. Oh, and a Murphy bed.
But just think of it: you pick out a nice location and then go to Ten Fold’s website to order your new home. You select the structure you want, put it in your shopping cart and, because you’re a member of Ten Fold Prime, you choose free two-day delivery. Ten Fold will then show you what other people who purchased your unit bought to go with it, but you figure you can always add Hello Kitty switchplates later. Two days later, you and your spouse sit comfortably on your folding chairs with a couple of beers as the huge truck rolls up, and your new home unfolds before your eyes in 10 minutes. And then your wife says, “Can you move it to the left about 15 inches.” Then you settle back into your chairs to wait for the cable guy, and, three weeks later, you’re ready to move in.*
Ha ha, just kidding. In fact, Ten Fold can rig your home with solar panels and satellite dishes so you can live off the grid, provided you don’t have any great need for plumbing.
But, seriously, some of these structures are quite impressive, and you can even stack them on top of each other, assuming you don’t choose one of the designs with a gable roof. They hold great promise as emergency housing in the case of natural disasters, or for refugees fleeing unstable regimes. They can be remote medical centers or instant military barracks. It won’t be long, I’m sure, before somebody turns one into an emergency Starbucks. (“There’s no Starbucks for eight blocks; quick, unfold one here.”)
Until now, a mobile home meant living in a double-wide at Happy Trail Acres in Arkansas. But those rarely got moved, unless a tornado came along. Now you can reside in a cool abode and, when your neighborhood starts going downhill, you can easily collapse your house, plop it down somewhere else, and wonder why that neighborhood suddenly starts going downhill. By the third or fourth move to a soon-to-be-plummeting neighborhood, you’ll realize that folding houses don’t do much for property values in the area.
A word of advice, though: when you relocate, be sure to remove all your stuff before you fold up your home. And make sure grandma’s out, too. She has enough wrinkles already.
See you soon.
*You can’t actually place an order on Ten Fold’s website; you have to contact them to find out “more about our global product development, manufacturing and licensing opportunities.” You can probably get a discount if you don’t mind having the exterior of your home plastered with, say, Verizon logos.
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