In many urban areas, space is at a premium and localities are trying to figure out how to fit more housing into already dense neighborhoods. Last year, California changed its legislation on “Accessory Dwelling Units,” small structures built in backyards or otherwise adjacent to primary homes. The change in legislation inspired the architects and wife-and-husband team Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir and Tryggvi Thorsteinsson of Minarc to create Plús Hús, a low maintance and simple way to create additional space in urban areas.

Plús Hús is designed to be a flexible space that can transition from being a temporary rental space to an office to a permanent home for a family member. Because it is designed to be a new structure on the likely-small lot of an existing one, “installing Plús Hús had to be as simple and efficient for the homeowners as possible. Cranes, heavy duty construction, noise for months – we wanted to avoid all of that,” Erla explains. “Plús Hús is a fully modular building that is assembled on site as opposed to fully prefabricated buildings that are craned into place. The unit is delivered completely flat-packed with an assembly manual, which walks the user through the installation process. Sort of like an Ikea dresser on a much larger scale. This relatively easy on-site assembly eases delivery and construction processes as well as overall cost.”

Erla and Tryggvi also designed the ION Adventure Hotel, a project of very different scale, which we profile here. Erla says, “It’s a characteristic of our culture in Iceland to pay attention to the relationships between nature, how we live and what we create no matter the size. For Ion Adventure Hotel, the landscape commands respect of the architecture and vice versa, especially since it’s the only hotel within the UNESCO Heritage Site. Plús Hús was born out of togetherness and connected to an inclusive community vision. Sure, there’s autonomy between homeowners and the dwelling but there is also fluidity. To end the housing crisis, we have to work together as a community. Plús Hús allows homeowners to expand their community, literally starting in their own backyard.”

See possible configurations of Plús Hús in the slideshow!