materialicious covers a different sort of prefab product that's been around for a while. From the company site:
The Igloo Satellite Cabin is designed to provide safe, reliable accommodation in remote areas. It has been used for over 25 years in conditions ranging from the tropics to polar icecaps. Units can be flown by helicopter fully assembled, and often fully equipped, to locations inaccessible by road transport. Igloos are ideal short-term accommodation for exploration and research, as well as an attractive alternative for eco-tourism.
Igloos can be lengthened to six or more metres by adding sets of extension panels, or interlinked by tunnels to provide a complete weatherproof base.
The Australian Antarctic Division has a bit more info on the history of the cabins:
2007 marked the 25th year since the first fibreglass Igloo Satellite Cabin was designed and manufactured in Tasmania. As at January 2008, 159 Igloos had been purchased by 45 institutes and individuals in 18 countries, with the majority for use in Antarctica.
Inspired by the natural beauty found in rural structures in the american landscapes, the mkHearth™ home is a sustainable approach to the modern farmhouse. With flowing spaces that organically open to one another, the mkHearth™ home revolves around the center hearth space, a fireplace/cabinetry that circulates up the 3 stories.
Kaufmann's signature touches are evident in the clean, modern lines, and the way each room seamlessly flows into the next.
The one thing we always love about each of Kaufmann's designs is that they look like the perfect place to throw a party. The kitchen always opens to the dining room, to the living room, to outdoor space. The mkHearth is no exception.
Bridgette Steffen covered the house for Inhabitat's Prefab Friday:
We always love seeing hot designers come out with their next hit– and Michelle Kaufmann’s new mkHearth is likely to be the new hot prefab design.
A real estate agent and a mortgage broker are co-hosting a seminar on modernist prefab next month in the San Francisco Bay Area:
This unique engagement will bring together leading professionals and experts in the field of building, design, real estate, and finance. Anyone who is contemplating the possibility of building a modernist prefab or custom home in Marin County should try to attend this event. Attendance is extremely limited and attendees will be selected on a first registered, first accepted basis.
Last month, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article on West Coast Green's showhome, the Harbinger House from SG Blocks LLC:
What makes this year's showcase home different from the prefab modular model seen last year [MKD's mkLotus] in San Francisco is not all the green bells and whistles ... it's the actual framework of the house that is truly innovative. This year's showstopper is made from five 40-foot-long shipping containers that once roamed the high seas
The article repeated a comment we've seen a few times:
a layman can't tell that, underneath its sleek lines, Harbinger was once a collection of lowly shipping crates
The advantages of shipping containers?
They're made of heavy-gauge steel, which holds up nicely in a hurricane or earthquake, but is usually too expensive to use in construction. [SG Blocks] gets the containers cheap - $500 to $2,000 a pop - because the fuel costs to ship them back empty to China or other places overseas are prohibitive. Because of the United States' huge trade imbalance, there are many empty containers lying around.
made from 5 shipping containers
1,700 square feet
about 5% less expensive than building in wood or other conventional materials
can be built 40% faster
SG Blocks facts:
founder: David Cross
location: St. Louis
has built 6 single-family homes in the US (designed by Lawrence Group)
400-unit elder-care facility in Oceanside, CA will be unveiled soon
Each will discuss their unique modular programs and successes with this chosen method of construction, particularly as an affordable and environmentally-friendly solution to land vacancy and community revitalization.
Mini house is a “friggebod” concept which brings some fun and excitement to a dull and conservative market. The concept means prefabrication, flat-pack delivery and weekend-long build-up! Building a house should be fun and easy. Kind of like putting together an Ikea cabinet!
(As best we can tell, friggebod means garden hut or shed.)
Tonight (Oct. 16) from 7:00-10:00 pm is opening night for A Clean Break: "An exhibition of modern prefab architecture and high-design, low-waste innovations for the urban environment."
The full exhibition runs from Oct. 17-30. Their description:
... a pop-up neighborhood of modern and sustainable design with an emphasis on modular and prefabricated homes. The outdoor exhibition offers full-scale homes to tour, installations by architects, urban farming, transportation, environmentally-friendly furniture, public art and other high-design, low-waste products.
See our Oct. 1 post (linked below) for more details.
Green homes are in demand. Buying a green home, however, can be a mystifying, exasperating process. With all the various green home labels and certifications available, buyers want for a way to compare the sustainability of one for-sale home to another. Applying a universal sustainability label to homes, just as we apply nutrition labels to food, would answer this need and further encourage the growth of the green housing market...
By coincidence, we just read an article in Green Building Elements that suggests France already has a good start. The article covers the EvolutiV house by designer Olgga Architectes:
The media in France AND the architecture firm who designed the house feel compelled to advertise efficiency in terms of a single number that is easy to understand and can be used to compare this home to others one might choose. I’ve rarely if ever seen that in discussion of US prefab options (or other green homes) - outside of a LEED rating, we’re often left to guess exactly how eco-friendly that home is. We’d love to see this become more widespread in the US - information is power, and simple, objective numbers like this can help us separate the truly eco-friendly from innovative designs that are green in name (or advertising) only.
Clayton Homes is holding a Showcase of Homes at the Triad Center in Greensboro, NC this weekend, October 10-12. From the press release:
Literally, Clayton Homes constructs a temporary neighborhood in the parking lot of The Triad Center, fully adorned with sidewalks, landscaping, mailboxes and street signs. The Showcase of Homes provides an opportunity for people to tour a variety of manufactured homes and see how dramatically the homes have changed in recent years.
What to expect:
20 new, fully-furnished homes on display
hot dogs, drinks and popcorn
$100 gas card drawings each half hour
Clayton CEO Kevin Clayton explains:
Our unofficial motto is 'Best Home -- Best Price' and we take that very seriously.
It has been his mission since taking over as CEO ten years ago to produce manufactured housing that surpasses site-built homes in look, quality, and value.
Clayton Homes produces both "manufactured" and "modular" housing. These terms have a specific meaning in the industry, part of which is covered on their website:
Manufactured Home: Built entirely in the factory under federal code administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).... Covers single or multi-section homes and includes transport to the site and installation.
The industry stopped using the term "mobile home" (and presumably "trailer home") when the HUD code became effective June 15, 1976. Not mentioned: manufactured homes do NOT qualify for a traditional mortgage, in part because the homes tend to lose value every year.
Modular Home: Built to state, local or regional code where the home will be located. System-built homes are transported to sites and installed.
These homes are built to the same standards as conventional "site-built" homes and qualify for a standard mortgage. (In fact they are often somewhat stronger in order to survive transportation and installation by crane.)
At least one home in the Showcase had 2 stories (see above), so it appears that a mix of both types will be shown.
More about Clayton Homes:
owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway
recent news coverage outlines how they've avoided the current sub-prime issues
Inhabitat visited and gave a full review. I found this quote about containers particularly interesting:
The same local skilled workers who repair the containers are hired to repurpose them into house modules, which can then be easily shipped on trains. This process translates into a miniscule transportation footprint and blazingly fast build times: “when you deliver the finished components to site, you can install up to 12 containers using one crane in one day - that’s the equivalent of a 5,000 square foot house that is set in place in one day”.
West Coast Green had a contest in the naming of the house. The winner, Gregory Schaefer, came up with "Harbinger House", saying:
'By definition, a harbinger is something which allows us to see the future, a foretelling, a symbolic event or bridge. I think we usually are aware of these in hindsight, but here, today we can clearly see the future. The Harbinger House is a model of sustainable design that needs recognition for its forward thinking vision and creativity.'
A blog called Greenlight has some interesting news:
The Japanese electronics giant has assembled a strategic plan to start making modular homes in about three to five years that will combine green construction along with sophisticated electronics to curb energy consumption.
While the energy savings ideas are new, Panasonic "already has a construction division that makes modular homes in Japan."
Though not likely to be coming to the US anytime soon:
the U.S. could be the last market it approaches...
Sidekick specializes in ADUs, or accessory dwelling units. They're anti-McMansions, small — sometimes tiny — living quarters built for backyards of existing homes, typically for aging relatives. Hence, they’re sometimes called "mother-in-law" or "granny" flats.
That's a great niche for modular construction.
The article included some local details:
One complication for the backyard ADU business is that zoning rules vary among municipalities and neighborhoods. ....
"They’re promoted by cities like Arvada [Colorado] as a way to help with the affordable housing issue and the issue of housing the aging population, which are both coming together pretty strongly right now," Kephart says.
In Denver, ADUs are allowed only in neighborhoods zoned for mixed use, such as Stapleton...
price: $75,000 - $200,000
size: 400 - 1160 square feet
owner Michael Kephart launched Sidekick Homes early this spring
The best part:
They're ... pre-built and trucked from the factory to the home site with everything from the ceiling fixtures to the kitchen counters intact.
From October 17 to 30, a temporary prefab “neighborhood” in Philadelphia will offer an optimistic view of what a revitalized city might look like in the near future. A Clean Break, curated by Minima Gallery, will be a central event of DesignPhiladelphia, an annual series of lectures, studio tours, and exhibitions organized by the Design Center at Philadelphia University.