AbleNook Modular Dwelling

AbleNook Dwelling


by Sean Verdecia

Our passion project from school, “Able-Nook,” has just gone live on Kickstarter!

Kickstarter link: and our website :

I live in a small bungalow and love it, so I based my idea for a new form of disaster relief housing around a Lego version of a bungalow. The goal was to create a shelter that can be assembled in hours, without tools, on uneven terrain. These shelters can be indefinitely expanded and are shipped flat-packed. Flat-packing consolidates shipment sizes and allows more families to be helped per delivery.

As you connect the structural walls when building the integrated electrical system is also connected, along with the integrated lighting.

We are hoping that these units can take the place of FEMA trailers so that history doesn’t repeat itself, and so families can have some measure of dignity after losing their homes.

I’ve attached a few images of the functioning prototype and some renderings.

solar roof

side view

different sizes

parts assembly


what you need

Join Our eMail List and download the Tiny House Directory

Simply enter your name and email below to learn more about tiny houses and stay up to date with the movement.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Em - January 17, 2013 Reply

This is such a genius project, so beautiful, so wonderful, I can hardly contain myself.

I’m in the midst of being basically homeless at the moment and the idea of this uncertain existence being fixed by this project has me literally crying.

I love this. I love it. You are all geniuses with hearts. What combination could be better!

    Irene - January 17, 2013 Reply

    Em, what is going on, how did you get to this point, what state are you in (do you need lists of resources), and what can be done to help you?

Corrine - January 17, 2013 Reply

Wow, these are spectacular. xox

adam - January 17, 2013 Reply

My friends had “some measure of dignity” when they lived in fema trailers.

FreeRangeRadical - January 17, 2013 Reply

This is nice. I love the design and how it can be leveled on uneven ground. That’s an often-forgotten point, I think.

Great job! Beautiful!

Claudia - January 17, 2013 Reply

I think this is a great looking design. I’d like it as a permanent home.

Mary M - January 17, 2013 Reply

This is a really nice design. Very expandable, love the two story design. Looking at the pictures and designs on this blog always makes me want to give up my four bedroom house and live in a tiny house. Someday…..

Giancarlo Giusti - January 17, 2013 Reply

Great concept; brilliant for the fact this can be used for living, teaching, camping, etc. Also the concept it can be as big as needed. congrats on a nother great design

Dan C - January 17, 2013 Reply

OMG, I run a gym near a college campus, with a client base of mostly 18-25 year old males I’m pretty sure that if I put a few of these in my backyard they’d be rented within hours. These are completely badass!

A.M. - January 17, 2013 Reply

Glad to see this featured here! Beautiful concept! Love that they can be joined together/expanded, and also that they can have solar panels on the roof! Awesome!

Hope they get a company going that builds these. Aside from any potential disaster relief applications, I’m betting a lot of people would like to get their hands on one of these for various reasons. No eyesore here!

Wouldn’t it be great to see a community of something that looks that sleek as the next “trailer park”?

Angelica - January 17, 2013 Reply

As an “ex” architecture student, I can happily say FINALLY! Finally architecture students are putting their knowledge to good use. So much time, energy, and materials are wasted making functionally useless theoretical spaces that will never be realized. This is why I left. I think I can confidently say Samuel Mockbee is smiling.

“That is the reason you go to college, not to make more money, but to gain the knowledge to make this a better world.” Sambo Mockbee

    Sean Verdecia - January 19, 2013 Reply


    Jason and I keep talking about your comment. “She gets it!!” is what we say. It used to drive us crazy how the actual application of useful knowledge was frowned upon in studio, everything had to be nebulous theory attached to high-sounding exposition. Our project is a result of us tenaciously doing the things we were told could not be done. Really happy about the Sam Mockbee reference. We also thought about Glenn Murcutt while developing the idea; Structures should “touch the Earth lightly”…

Angelica - January 17, 2013 Reply

And PS. I WILL be donating.

TomLeeM - January 17, 2013 Reply

I think being able to assemble them without tools would be a giant plus when it comes to emergencies. I think it has a lot of potential since one can build as much or as little as one needs.

The design is very futuristic yet simple. I like it.

handyhusband01 - January 17, 2013 Reply

Not sure what the FEMA comment was all about. Is that the hateful speech that so many folks were opining about? I’d like to see the cost analysis for both with features side by side along with what each was tested to regarding federal housing standards. I would say this is a futuristic design on the high end of costs.

    adam - January 17, 2013 Reply

    I’m just saying that fema trailers are practical, comfortable, and economical, and I don’t know why the author would think living in a trailer would have less dignity than living in an ablenook.

      Mary - January 18, 2013 Reply

      I agree with you Adam. Dignity comes from within a person and cannot be gained or lost based on one’s surroundings. The AbleNook is nice, but so are the FEMA trailers I’ve seen.

Magalie - January 17, 2013 Reply

Fantastic, all of the best in getting this up and running!

DeWhit - January 18, 2013 Reply

This is nowhere near a new idea.

This very type structure is currently used by many as convention show booth structures. I have set this type up for numerous large corporate clients at the World Congress Center in Atlanta and Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando and Dallas.

This is another architectual rendering and repackaging that is not new or cutting edge, but just a reapplication of existing product.

Are the schools and architects trying to advance the science of building and the financial impact for the masses or merely seeking a product line and “green” or “resourceful” yak yak to market something ?

    tina - November 23, 2013 Reply

    I also build this stuff at the Georgia World Congress Center two decades ago. It’s called System. It’s made of extruded aluminum. I built with it for years. There are already modular versions of it in the marketplace for these applications.

    Some other problems with this idea: security is a huge problem after disasters. Mobile homes, which were actually easily and quickly deployed after Katrina once the political roadblocks were overcome, provided necessary resistance against thuggery, sad to say.

    Also, this design is just basically a good-looking tent. Mobile homes are built away from disaster areas and include plumbing and cooking areas, the really stuff to install on-site.

DeWhit - January 18, 2013 Reply


Dale - January 18, 2013 Reply

What a terrific idea whose time has arrived! Sign me up for all updates and now am very much interested in viewing the completed options for interiors – like kitchenettes/bathroom/wheel chair access options and other details. Congratulations on a supurb design guys!

Benjamin - January 18, 2013 Reply

Is there an issue with heat-loss through the aluminum framing?

Teresa Reinhardt - January 18, 2013 Reply

How fast people forget – after Katrina, when the trailers finally arrived, it was found that they were unsafe due to outgassing of toxic chemicals.

Great design; I’ll take one!

Shell - January 18, 2013 Reply

This is wonderful. : )

Sam Shan - January 19, 2013 Reply

I like the modular house. Can I have a floor plan of the two or three storeys?

Sam Shan - January 19, 2013 Reply

It seems that the frames are made of extruded aluminum profiles and the walls are OSB sandwich panels. Am I right?

Aconde - January 19, 2013 Reply

This is a fantastic idea! In my opinion this is. What we need for those who cannot afford to buy the homes that are out there. When I lost my job, I lost my home, but thank God I have my sister. Still I would love my own place again now that I’m working again. I just can’t afford what’s out there and social services takes too long to help you find a place. I wish those modular homes were around here. I’m quite sure many people would benefit from them.

Al - January 19, 2013 Reply

The original poster will have to clarify, but I took the FEMA reference to mean that the Ablenook is easier to deploy than FEMA trailers and that “dignity” means that persons in need won’t have to wait weeks to be provided emergency housing. Aside from that, I think this is functional, smart and even aesthetic. Well done!

Peggy - January 19, 2013 Reply

I did not interpret the comment (some measure of dignity) about FEMA trailers as literal as some others did. I thought it referred to not enough trailers were available for everyone to have immediate shelter. Not, those who were fortunate enough to get a FEMA trailer, had lost their dignity.
Also, FEMA trailers can only be located on certain types of terrain i.e.. dry, flat and level surfaces. This type of application would alleviate the storage volume and reduce transportation costs for the quantity of shelters needed during an emergency.
DeWhit is certainly idealist. Look at Japan. They are fuelling a whole economy by repackaging products ‘invented’ by others. I think it is a major step to move from a display booth to a livable shelter. Certainly some aspects would be similar, just like the old telephones are still similar to the current ones. Are they completely new inventions? No. Only major repackaging and reengineering of the original concept of longer distance communication. They still have the same alpha keys, same concept of pick up and hang up. However, they have been repackaged from turn crank, to rotary dial, to digital, to wires, to underground cables, to wireless, and will be repackaged again and again over the next decades. So, I cannot agree with your view of display booths are the same technology as a livable shelter. Certainly similar concepts, but the application, design and weight structure are totally different.

David Hammond - January 19, 2013 Reply

Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.
Coco Chanel

RPB - January 20, 2013 Reply

Stunning solution. I will be checking out Kickstarter and your web site for better info.

Looks like a great solution for relief projects and “college town” accessory dwelling units if the price is right.

How do you deal with DC vs AC power if the unit is sent outside of the US?

LarsMetalhead - January 24, 2013 Reply

What prevents the flat walled design from blowing over in high winds? What prevents its footprint from sinking and shifting in soft or wet ground? In cold weather, do high ceilings make sense(i.e. heat rises)? what are the additional costs for providing electric/water/fuel/sewage resources?

Gaylan - January 26, 2013 Reply

Hmm, on the flip side.. you can put barbed wire around them next :s

. . then post a guard and ~walla.. instant ‘gated community’.

just sayin.

Ablenook: The Innovative Disaster Relief Housing Solution - September 3, 2016 Reply

[…] is an innovative prefabricated modular dwelling, created using identical, universal aluminum structural insulated panels (SIPs) and extruded […]

Leave a Reply: