Earthcube Story


The Origins of Earthcube –

Sometimes we can look into the past and see the threads which stretch from our early years merge into the fabric of our present world. And though these threads reach back across decades they can grow stronger with time. Some of my own threads include a love of wood and craftsmanship which began with a toy dragon I carved for my little brother Peter, I have it in my studio today to remind me of the motive behind creativity. Other threads trace back to cutting my thumb in the workshop and suddenly having some free time to learn CAD design as I realized this was a tool I had to master. This thread multiplied when my 13 year old son Matthew and I saw the first 3D architectural animation program arrive in NZ. Kids have amazing energy to learn when they are excited and a few years later we worked together on the world’s first 3D interactive super yacht on the internet. Still other threads stretch back into my formative years in yacht interiors where we learned to make structures that would sail around the world and last for generations. But some of the longest go back to my childhood in the virgin wilderness of our Alaskan homestead. The sense of awe and appreciation you gain for the earth in a place like that never leaves you.

These threads and many more are woven into the unique fabric that is an earthcube home. To understand an earthcube, start by forgetting what you know about building in general and shipping container houses in particular and try and imagine a world where beauty and excellence are more important than production and profit.

A wise man once said “the hardest work you will ever do is to think differently”, and it really was hard work to break down fixed ideas about building and create something new. A great help here was our background in yachts; no one ever asked for plasterboard walls, particleboard floor or melamine cabinets in a yacht. But there were some realities to be faced from the start…

The only way forward was something like an MP3 revolution in the building industry. The MP3 took power from music industry corporations and gave it to consumers via an open network free of profit driven control. The Industry model was buying the album as they packaged it, but with MP3 you can combine your own best elements to achieve the best result for you, and that’s essentially what we do at earthcube.

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Our past years in design and build taught us that the human factor was the key. Our vision was that, on entering the earthcube, you felt inspired yet serene, you sense luxury and yet relax in a space that welcomes and enchants without straining to impress. So we spent months in interactive 3D working through concepts until the final design came together looking something like a fine yacht along more cubist lines, which is more or less what an earthcube is. Solid integrated cabinetry was essential.

Finally there came the point when all the engineering and design could go no further until we built our first home. With three standard 20’ containers, marine ply, bamboo, hand woven grass and cinnamon wood and several months working until midnight we built our first home, still one of my favorites and, although the system has been refined a great deal over the years, that first earthcube remains one of our most charming.

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It was a big learning curve for the team to bring our wood and yacht background together with the engineering of the shipping container, but the benefits of this unique fusion were just too good to ignore. We could build in modules in our dedicated yard and easily send them anywhere. The modular home could be added to or built in phases over time and stack, span and cantilever at no cost and remain safe through hurricanes and earthquakes.

I was especially keen on earthquake safe homes as I’d been through a 9.2 quake as a kid in Alaska. However, at the time of building the first earthcube, no one took much notice of that feature as the first Christchurch quakes were yet to happen.

The shipping container remains one of the strongest building elements on our planet. There are no nails, screws or glue, the MIG welded seams are stronger than the elements being welded. This is called a ”Unibody”,  a structure with no weak points. And now, after years of development, the earthcube system has been approved to be built in New Zealand and sent anywhere in the world. It is termite proof for the tropics, super thermal for the cold regions and uses no formaldehyde or VOC’s to help keep your family and your planet in good health.

The earthcube team today is a great mix of experienced masters and young, enthusiastic people in training and homeowners from all over who are excited with the level of creativity and excellence which is part of our unique culture. From our base in Tauranga, N.Z. we build individual homes for unique people and amazing places all over our planet.

Photos show examples of past work…     Click on Image to Zoom

Many standard building materials are not allowed in our homes as they are simply not good enough.  We have sourced superior materials through the most direct supply lines possible to make a home that will last for generations.

Earthcube’s founder, Chris Brauchli has wide practical experience from hands on work in yacht interiors to building quite a number of high end homes in New Zealand. His homes in New Zealand are unique designs which are themed throughout with integrated solid cabinetry and detailing.

Team skills include architecture and 3D, building and cabinetmaking, metalwork, plastering and painting. In addition we have a range of exclusive materials, finishes and techniques.

But the real secret is in making these homes warm, inviting and beautiful. Homes that will last for generations need to keep their aesthetic value and be cherished by those who will live with them. And this is where the magic really begins…

The following Seven Points are at the core of our thinking as The Earthcube Project seeks to redefine both the building process and the forces behind those practices itself to create the best possible solution for each of our homeowners.

01. Use the design secrets we’ve discovered over the years to make your home perfect for you and your unique site to enhance your relationship with family, friends and environment.

02. Make your design and build process as fulfilling as possible by using advanced 3D visualisation, animation and  full Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology

03. Build your home at the lowest cost to homeowner and environment by combining modular ISBU construction with our experience in yacht interiors and high end residential design and build.

04. Use healthy and sustainable materials which last a long time and help their homeowners do the same while avoiding profit driven corporates and sourcing by the most direct route possible.

05. Build each module at our dedicated Earthcube facility to control quality and cost by eliminating travel time and waste of natural and human resources.

06. Offer our homes globally by using the strength of the shipping container in combination with the global container network already in place for moving cubes around the planet with ease and economy.

07. To continue to adapt and move forward with research and development and the application of better thinking, materials and solutions to the needs and problems of our clients and our world.

Of prime importance are the principles behind our designs that help to create homes of timeless value. Many of these concepts are so little understood in our culture, that their names have no equivalent in the English language. We have condensed some of the most important into a seminar… The Seven Secrets of Great Design.

As Sir Winston Churchill said “We shape our homes, thereafter they shape us” What this means to us is that designing your home is about re-thinking and designing your life…

The following video demonstrates the advantage of our advanced 3D design system.

Before founding Earthcube, our designs were less cubic, more complex and much more expensive…