Dwell Magazine deserves much credit for the rise of modernist prefab in the past few years. Many of the designers and homes featured on this site first appeared in its pages.
In the manifesto published in the first issue in October 2000, editor Kerrie Jacobs explained the magazine's vision:
"At Dwell, we're staging a minor revolution. We think that it's possible to live in a house or apartment by a bold modern architect, to own furniture and products that are exceptionally well designed, and still be a regular human being. We think that good design is an integral part of real life. And that real life has been conspicuous by its absence in most design and architecture magazines."
In 2003 "Dwell introduced the Dwell Home Design Invitational, a competition for a modern prefab prototype home designed for mass production." A subsequent competition was held for the more environmentally conscious Dwell Home II, but that home's prototype has yet to clear permitting hurdles.
The winner of the original competition, Resolution 4: Architecture, and a second company, Lazor Office, were chosen to design modernist prefab homes to be built by Empyrean. Empyrean has been building homes with prefab methods since 1959; its own designers contributed two designs to the Dwell Homes.
Dwell's (now former) Editor-in-Chief Allison Arieff explained the advantages of such a partnership between designer and manufacturer:
"One of the major obstacles prefab has faced has been effective collaboration among designers, manufacturers, and clients. This exciting partnership brings together experienced parties across that spectrum, all of whom are passionate about and committed to prefab's potential."
We'll cover the designs of the Dwell Homes, and the progress of the greener Dwell Home II, over the next few days.
Some features common to all of the Dwell Homes:
fabricator: Empyrean International, LLC
cost: $175/sf - 250/sf (includes all fees, site work, and finishes)
primary materials: stucco, wood siding, wood windows, wood decking
planning time: "few months"
permitting time: "days to months"
assembly time: "few weeks"
all on-site construction time: 3 - 6 months
construction type: conventional framing, non-modular
funding method: traditional lender
warranty: 10 years on manufactured components
miscellaneous: network of 300 Preferred Builders, customization possible