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Eco hotels: the future is modular

How a new trend in modular construction is shaking up the hotel world

Is modular construction the future of sustainable hotels?


These hotels and groups certainly think so. They claim that building ‘modules’ in factories and then transporting them to site to be built – or slotted into place like pieces of Lego – both reduces waste by 80% and has a far lower carbon footprint. We look at five of the best

Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia

The only luxury accommodation in the Skeleton Coast National Park, this prefabricated lodge is made of sustainably-sourced timber units. The idea is that the entire thing – including the back of house, made from modified shipping containers – can be entirely dismantled and moved, leaving no trace. There’s solar and wind power, water sourced from a river borehole and insulation made from recycled plastic water bottles.


CitizenM Downtown LA

This quickly-expanding hotel group, which ticks all sorts of Millennial boxes (colourful design, sociable co-working spaces, free WiFI) was an early adopter of modular construction, including for their newest in Los Angeles. Each property is built room-by-room in a factory, then transported to the final site and assembled. The benefits include a much faster turnaround, less building time and disruption in the urban areas they operate in, a reduced carbon footprint and big reduction in construction waste.



This South American explorations company is certified by B Corp, so you know it’s taking its sustainability seriously. As well as being carbon neutral, Explora works with Tompkins Conservation and The Nature Conservancy. Its latest lodge, El Chaltén, opening in Los Huemules Conservation Reserve in Argentina next month, uses modular design to create clean, spacious rooms which make the most of the spectacular glacial setting.



Koto’s bespoke Scandinavian-style modular cabins are built off-site, using locally sourced timber from FSC sustainable forests. Each cabin has an ‘envelope’ structure, which in turn means less need for heating or air conditioning – they call it “energy neutral” design. Koto’s aim is for each building to sequester more carbon than it emits. With plans for various hotel partnerships under its new Hytte brand, you can stay in one at Fritton Lake in Norfolk.


Moxy Oakland

The colourful industrial-chic interiors do well to cover up the boxy modular exterior of this hotel in downtown Oakland. Check in is at the bar (with a free drink thrown in at arrival) and local art is bigged up with various installations and a huge outdoor mural. There are various coworking spaces and an outdoor terrace, as well as bright and functional rooms.