Victoria’s – and Canada’s – first ever ‘inflatable home’ or ‘Binishell’ is going up in an Esquimalt neighbourhood. And while it might look like a large tent is being installed, the Binishell is actually used as a building system that cuts down on costs.
The home is the first for Nouvel Housing Inc. – the Canadian partner and licensee of the Binishell technology. It received approval from Esquimalt council in 2018 and a building permit in January. The 3,800-square-foot duplex will have a garage, bonus room, balcony and up to 20-foot-high cathedral ceilings.
“The formwork itself is inflatable, and the shell is built outside of that,” said Brittany Olney of Nouvel Housing. “It’s seismically sound, [and] it’s going to cost you significantly less. There’s a fraction of the maintenance.”
|Nouvel Housing Inc. is in the process of constructing Canada's first ever Binishell home in Esquimalt. (Facebook/Nouvel Housing)|
So how does it work? A patented pneumoform is fastened to a pad or foundation and inflated to maintain constant temperature and pressure. Polyurethane foam is evenly sprayed over the structure and once it has set, the ‘tent’ below is deflated and stored for the next house.
Rebar reinforcement and 4.5 inches of specialized shotcrete are applied. Finally, a weatherproofing membrane is added with a stucco finish and custom accents.
Because they use less material and labour, Nouvel Housing Inc. said the homes are half the cost – an answer, at least in part, to affordability barriers across the province.
“Because we are able to produce this so much faster, use less material and produce less waste, we’re cutting down on time and labour which is cutting our costs down as well,” Olney said.
The homes also boast some environmental benefits, Nouvel said it can reuse the pnemoform up to 100 times and produces less waste. Its structures also use zero thermal bridging – the building envelopes are made from a single material with a consistent depth, which, when insulated properly, optimize energy efficiency.
The company is working on four other buildings in Greater Victoria, three on Salt Spring Island and one in the Interior.