Entries tagged as 'model'
The October 2009 issue of Dwell Magazine features a shipping container home in Houston, TX.
Another 40-foot container serves as a guest house and storage unit.
model: Cordell House
designer: Christopher Robertson of Robertson Design
manufacturer: Numen Development
size: 1,858 sf
Here's some pricing info from Numen Development's site:
Dwell includes a slideshow of 23 pictures.
Title: The Shipping Muse
Subtitle: Shipping containers are ubiquitous in Houston, though unlike the four that make up this new home, they're usually filled with foreign goods rather than flourishing lives.
Author: Miyoko Ohtake
Publication: Dwell Magazine
Length: 1,258 words
Date: October 2009
The September 2009 issue of Midwest Home Magazine featured a modular home in St. Paul, MN.
According to the article:
Author: Chris Lee
Publication: Midwest Home
Section: Real & Simple
Length: 1,116 words
Date: September 2009
Hat tip: Jetson Green on September 4, 2009.
We recently received an email from a company called Shelter-Kit in Tilton, NH.
According to their site:
Shelter-Kit offers a variety of buildings and styles:
Also check out their kits for Barns, Garages & Workshops.
They are currently advertising:
They are calling these homes "The Skinny Project".
They also launched a home customization tool for the Skinny and three additional models:
In July, The Neosho Daily News in Missouri featured a modular house put together by students in building trades classes at Crowder College.
The only details we could find:
Interesting to note:
They held an open house and accepted "bids for the house with the winning bid subject to approval by the board of trustees."
Author: Amye Buckley
Publication: Neosho Daily News
Length: 598 words
Date: July 17, 2009
The Los Angeles Times recently covered a prefab house being built by students from Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts.
model: Refract House
size: 800 sf
Refract House will be on display this October at the National Mall in Washington, DC as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon.
For more info on the project, see:
Author: Amy Littlefield
Publication: Los Angeles Times
Length: 281 words
Date: July 29, 2009
Inhabitat recently covered a prefab concrete house in Ecuador which was completed in 2006.
model: Pentimento House
designer: Jose Maria Sáez and David Barragán
Check out the post for 12 more pictures.
model: The Cairo
designer: Affinity Building Systems, LLC
size: 2,522 sf
According to the article:
Title: New houses on display
Author: Boyana Peeva
Publication: The Valdosta Daily Times
Length: 432 words
Date: July 19, 2009
They offer 3 models:
On their blog, LionForce Building Systems recently announced their receipt of a 2009 Green Building Award from the city of San Antonio, TX. Their T-2 ecoLiving prototype won Best Green Custom Home under 2,200 sf.
We found some model information in a Social Media Release dated June 25, 2009:
Pictures of the ecoLiving T-2 home can be found on the company's flickr page.
Hat tip: Jetson Green on June 25, 2009.
Inhabitat recently covered the setting of a hybrid house in Hollywood Hills, California. The post includes 8 installation photos.
Inhabitat referenced an LA Times post which mentions price:
They offered a preview of one model:
size: 1,682 sf
Check out the post for more images.
Keiser Homes manufactures custom modular homes in Maine, for delivery there and in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
From their site:
They offer a wide variety of models ranging from 840 - 3,120 sf with 1-4 bedrooms. (Follow the above link for a complete list.)
Also, check out:
Hat tip: Inhabitat on June 29, 2009.
According to CEO John Ela:
They are offering 10 models:
Nelse Design + Build constructed their first house using SIPs for the walls and roof:
model: Green Cubed
size: 2,667 sf
From their Green Cubed website:
A slide show is also available on the site.
Hat tip: Jetson Green on June 18, 2009.
FKDA Architects designs and builds micro-homes in the UK.
They currently offer two models they call "sheds":
model: Big Shed
size: 24 m² (258 sf)
price: €35,000 - €50,000 ($48,716 - $69,595)
model: Little Shed
size: 13m² (140 sf)
price: €20,000 - €35,000 ($27,838 - $48,716)
According to their site:
They are also working on a Zero Carbon modular house they are calling eco-home. We will post more information when it becomes available.
IC Green designs and builds "modern and sustainable pre-fab dwellings made from converted oversea shipping containers".
They currently offer 6 models:
Check out their construction photos.
Matthew Grace Architecture in Australia now offers four resPOD prefab homes.
According to their site, resPOD is:
All models are constructed from steel shipping containers.
(We were unable to find pricing information.)
Hat tip: Inhabitat on May 25, 2009.
model: Whisper Creek Cabin
designer: Allison Ramsey Architects
manufacturer: Haven Custom Homes
size: 1,555 sf
The home is one of four being offered within the 2009 Southern Living Choose Your Home Giveaway presented by MyHomeIdeas.com. (The contest ends on June 30, 2009.)
The contest website includes:
According to the press release, the house is open to the public for tours:
where: Leicester, NC
location: 7500 Hwy 63
time: Wednesdays - Saturday 11 am - 5 pm, Sundays 1 pm - 5 pm
Form & Forest recently sent us an email announcing the latest addition to their lineup of Flat Pack Cabins. Here's our usual summary:
designer: D'Arcy Jones Design
manufacturer: Form & Forest
size: 1,559 sf
Check out their brochure (PDF) for the floorplan and further details.
Clayton Homes officially launched their much anticipated iHouse.
They offer 2 models and an optional flex room:
View the brochures:
Take a virtual tour:
Configure your own iHouse via their website.
Hat tip: Jetson Green on May 3, 2009.
DigsDigs recently featured a cedar shingled house in North Elmham, UK.
model: Cedar House
designer: Hudson Architects
manufacturer: Framework Construction Design Management Ltd
price: $369,264 (£245,000)
Check out the post for more pictures, and see the Cedar House video (1:26) on the architect's website.
GreenSource Magazine recently named their Best Green House for April 2009.
Read the entire article for more information and to see additional pictures.
Author: David Sokol
Publication: GreenSource Magazine
Section: Best Green Houses
Length: 356 words
Date: April 2009
Hat tip: Jetson Green on April 30, 2009.
model: The Quarters
builder: Haven Custom Homes
designer: Allison Ramsey Architects
size: 2,113 sf
Also available in 2009:
Hat tip: Building Systems Blog on March 24, 2009.
Read our earlier post for more details on the development, and the role of modular.
The company will complete its first home in June 2009 in Bend, Oregon. Some background from their site:
They also have a set of fixed models:
Hat tip: Jetson Green on March 25, 2009.
See the post for a few more pictures.
We found model information on their site:
model: ModestHouse Mini
designer: Jeffrey McKean Architects
size: 850 sf
price: starting at $250/sf
designer: Jeffrey McKean Architects
size: 2,130 sf
price: starting at $250/sf
Watch their animated assembly video (1:17).
View the floorplans:
The Contemporist recently covered a two-family prefab in Austin, TX.
model: The Annie Residence
designer: Bercy Chen Studio LP
According to the architect's website:
We also found a video (2:00) showing some of the construction details.
The News & Observer in North Carolina highlighted a modular hybrid home.
We found model information on the BuildSense website:
They also share a floorplan (PDF) that includes a series of construction pictures.
Read the entire News & Observer article for more information and check out their photo gallery.
Title: Modern goes modular
Author: Laura Battaglia
Publication: The News & Observer
Length: 606 words
Date: March 21, 2009
size: 738 sf
size: 1,409 sf
Arch Daily recently covered Villa Grow from Sweden:
model: Villa Grow
designer: Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture
available: United Kingdom and Sweden
size: 645 - 1,722 sf (60 - 160 m²)
Check out their promotional video. (3:59)
We found model information on their website:
They offer three different style packages:
Also, check out pictures of the first PLACE House being constructed.
Read the entire Metropolitan Home article.
Title: How to Live Prefab
Subtitle: Heather Johnston's prefab design for a family of five in Kirkland, Washington, makes the most of limited space—and the planet’s limited resources.
Author: Fred Albert
Publication: Metropolitan Home
Section: Remodel / remodeling Guide
Length: 959 words
Date: April 2009
size: 840 sf
price: $184,000 - $224,000 for land/box packages in Port Townsend
footprint: 57’ 4” long x 15’ wide
Realtor Charlie Arthur of RE/MAX FIRST, INC. is blogging about the house:
Scroll through his recent posts for more details, e.g.
If you find yourself in the area, check out their upcoming Open House:
event: ideabox Open House
where: Port Townsend, WA
location: 1650 Cherry Street
date: March 26, 2009
time: 9:00am - 12:00pm
Hat tip: Jetson Green on February 18, 2009.
The company currently has two models available.
model: casa ti
company: Green Modern Kits
designer: David Day Architecture
price: starting at $22,537
size: 1,200 sf
fabrication time: 3 weeks
floorplans: casa ti floorplan (PDF)
model: The R1 Residential
company: Green Modern Kits
designer: Grace Street
price: starting at $30,000
size: 2,028 - 2,168 sf
fabrication time: 3 weeks
Also check out:
According to their website, they are:
Individual model prices are not listed, but they mention the line will be "starting under $100,000".
Here's the model information:
To see the layouts:
The series was created in collaboration with Balance Associates.
Hat tip: Jetson Green on March 11, 2009.
According to the architect, Antón García- Abril, of Ensamble Studio:
About the name:
model: Hemeroscopium House
designer: Ensamble Studio
size: 400 m2 (4,300 sf)
The house is "the new residence of the Unity College president Mitchell Thomashow and his wife, Cindy." They have a blog about the house.
Check out the many photos on the OPI website
Bensonwood now offers an entire Unity Collection:
Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, posted pictures of their completed Mod.Fab.
PrairieMod tracked their progress from start to finish.
size: 600 sf
Hat Tip: Jetson Green on February 13, 2009.
They will be launching on February 19, 2009 with a full set of flat pack prefab cabins designed by D'Arcy Jones Design.
One of the first models (seen above):
Additional images can be seen on the architect's website, which has minimal information in English.
model: The Mountain Lodge
designer: PS Arkitektur
price: €200,000 (~$259,330)
size: 85sqm and 100sqm (~915 - 1,076 sf)
BR: 2 - 3
notes: price includes interior fittings
The designer's website offers numerous images, but no information about size or price.
The company offers 4 models:
Check out the assembly videos on their website.
According to the BrightBuilt Barn website:
model: BrightBuilt Barn
designer: Kaplan Thompson Architects
size: 700 sf
beds: 1 - 2
Other coverage around the web:
For more details, read the entire article.
Author: Steven Kurutz
Publication: The New York Times
Section: Home & Garden
Length: 195 words
Date: January 14, 2009
The (Maryville, TN) Daily Times interviewed Kevin Clayton, the company's CEO and president, on October 29, 2008.
Metro Pulse had a lengthy article on December 17, 2008:
Jetson Green shared some great pictures on January 9, 2009.
Last, but not least, a fan created The Clayton iHouse blog. Although not affiliated with Clayton Homes, it is a great source of information.
In 2005, Dwell magazine launched a line of co-branded prefab homes with several companies. In October, Time Inc's This Old House (TOH) announced they were following suit (paid subscription required):
This news comes as the This Old House TV series wraps up construction on a Bensonwood home that has served as the subject of the show's latest season. Further information on that project is available on the This Old House blog.
Title: This New House (paid subscription required)
Subtitle: Time Inc. home-improvement title in prefab home pact
Author: Lucia Moses
Length: 446 words
Date: October 27, 2008
Building Systems blog reported back in November:
Worth a listen: their podcast about Krave's strategy.
Worth browsing: Glencairn Cottages
Builder: Nationwide Custom Homes
The company's Conhouse (container house) Web site has lots of details:
See also: more pictures of the 2+ Weekend House.
model: 2+ Weekend House
designer: Jure Kotnik Arhitekt
construction method: containers
Last month, a few blogs covered new prefab concepts from Binary Design Studio.
On October 13, 2008 Archinect wrote:
(SEED = Small Energy Efficient Dwelling)
The Archinect post also briefly discusses another prefabricated element the studio is developing:
On October 23, 2008 Inhabitat commented:
On October 27, 2008 Treehugger shared a skeptical view of small, affordable housing:
(Read the post for details on each.)
Other blog coverage:
Last month, The Daily Telegraph in the UK compiled a list of prefab products, describing them as
Included on the list:
Read the full article for pictures and further details.
Title: Prefab property: Pod squad
Author: Kiera Buckley-Jones and David Nicholls
Section: Property / Features
Length: 743 words
Date: October 10, 2008
Here's an interesting modular development that was announced last month:
We found this explanation of a Traditional Neighborhood Development:
Haven Custom Homes emphasizes the advantages of building "in an off-site, climate controlled environment where the materials used in your home are protected from the weather."
(Hat tip: Building Systems on October 29, 2008)
In September, Charles Bevier of Building Systems blog mentioned a 2-page spread in the Fall/Winter 2008 issue of Better Homes & Gardens' New Home Magazine (BH&G).
The blog post summarizes comments by Bill Murray, general manager of HandCrafted, on the advantages of modular construction:
The issue will be in newsstands through November.
Two weeks ago, the Christian Science Monitor featured Everhouse, a simple design meant to address the post-hurricane housing shortage near the Gulf Coast:
The designer of Everhouse looked to the advantages of prefabrication to help.
Key benefit: the shell can be assembled in one day.
The company hopes to produce 1,500 homes per year.
designers: John Sawyer and Harold McKenna
size: 1,300 sf
notes: price is about half the cost of traditional affordable housing in the area
Sawyer also sees a shortage of skilled construction labor in the region. Read the article for his proposed solution.
Subtitle: A team redisigns the who, how, and what of Gulf Coast affordable housing
Author: Paul Sedan
Publication: Christian Science Monitor
Length: 865 words
Date: October 23, 2008
In Italy, Giacomo Guidotti e Riccarda Guidotti Studio di Architettura designed a home that uses prefabricated concrete wall panels as the exterior cladding. That's common in commercial and industrial buildings but rarely seen in residential construction.
One advantage of this method: the concrete forms both the exterior and interior wall surfaces, reducing time spent on finishes.
(Hat tip: materialicious)
The Swiss Architecture Museum included the home in an exhibition last year:
Here's some background information on prefabricated concrete wall panels from an excellent reference site called the Whole Building Design Guide.
Paul E. Gaudette explains:
In general, prefabricated concrete wall panels can serve one of two purposes:
It's not clear whether the Casa Grossi wall panels are load bearing.
We recently received an email from Blu Homes.
According to their website:
All of their modular homes are fully finished, with a fabrication time of 4-6 weeks and installation time of less than 10 days. They offer several models:
They also offer "Flex" spaces to enlarge an existing home.
From their site:
Preston at Jetson Green has covered the company:
As did Andrew Stone of Active Rain.
designer: Michelle Kaufmann Designs
size: 2,820 sf
beds: 4 + loft
notes: Prices equal total estimated hard and soft costs.
Preston at Jetson Green loves it.
Stephanie at Apartment Therapy Re-Nest says:
Bridgette Steffen covered the house for Inhabitat's Prefab Friday:
The article repeated a comment we've seen a few times:
The advantages of shipping containers?
SG Blocks facts:
Author: Paul Kilduff
Publication: San Francisco Chronicle
Section: G - 3
Length: 807 words
Date: September 24, 2008
More about the concept:
(As best we can tell, friggebod means garden hut or shed.)
See the original post for 11 pictures and more details.
model: Mini house
designer: Jonas Wagell Design & Architecture
manufacturer: Nordic Marine Living AB
size: 161.5 sf
price: €12,200 - €17,700 ($16,500 - $24,000)
(Hat tip: Treehugger)
What to expect:
Clayton CEO Kevin Clayton explains:
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:
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.
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:
We didn't make it to this year's West Coast Green, but followed the coverage of those who did. Most interesting: SG Blocks' Harbinger show house.
Inhabitat visited and gave a full review. I found this quote about containers particularly interesting:
Preston over at Jetson Green toured the house.
The home will be on view at other trade events:
Private Island Blog approves:
The story behind the name:
That's a great niche for modular construction.
The article included some local details:
The best part:
Author: Mike Taylor
Publication: ColoradoBiz Magazine
Section: Small Biz
Length: 686 words
Date: September 30, 2008
A recent email from Alchemy Architects says:
Old pricing was in the $150/SF range, so it's quite a drop. Actual pricing depends on your part of the country.
Higher capacity solar kits are available for larger homes. For details: FusionModular.com.
Very interesting -- though apparently not headed to the US. From an article in the Wall Street Journal:
Unbeknownst to most of us, Toyota prefabs have been around for awhile:
The tie-in with Toyota's vehicles is certainly interesting:
I can't help but quote this imagery:
The timeline sounds right:
The company's past sales leave much room for expansion, within Japan and abroad:
I couldn't find an official Toyota Homes Website, just this little tidbit from Toyota's homepage.
Read the whole article for some housing issues that are specific to Japan.
subtitle: Steel-Frame Houses Get Renewed Push, Tie-In to Electric Cars
publication: The Wall Street Journal
author: John Murphy
length: 1,000 words
publication date: July 2, 2008
Referencing a talk given by Steven Kieran and James Timberlake a few years back, Lloyd explained why the Cellophane House is so exciting:
Visit Treehugger to read Lloyd's complete post.
Here's more info from the KieranTimberlake project page for the home:
Like their Loblolly House, this one is designed to be easy to put together and take apart.
They describe the concept using soaring rhetoric:
Definitely worth a view: a time-lapse video of the home's assembly.
I'll give Lloyd the final word (as I'm inclined to agree):
model: Cellophane House
designer: KieranTimberlake Associates
size: 1,800 sf
how: aluminum framing system
The LivingHomes by KieranTimberlake line features just two models, the KT1 and the KT2. The KT1 comes in three subtle variations, each able to be expanded differently.
For instance, the KT1.1 can grow from the 1 bedroom, 1,020 sf "small" version to the 4 bedroom, 2,160 sf "large" version by adding three additional modules. Difficult to describe with words, the extensions seem both logical and organic; take a look at the KT1.1 brochure (pdf) to see how the changes occur.
About the KT2:
This sort of expandability makes perfect sense with prefab structures and KieranTimberlake's "Smart Panels™" seem to be a key component. I for one am interested to see how this partnership grows. Something that should help them along: prices between $155/sf - $215/sf.
size: 1,020 - 2,160 sf
expected price: $155/sf - $215/sf
br: 1 - 4
size: 1,540 sf
expected price: $135/sf - $185/sf
Designed by KAA Design Group in Los Angeles, the three different HOM models range from 1,000 - 3,600 sf and can include as many as 6 bedrooms! The listed price per sf is $200, though customization options will most likely push that number higher.
HOM is a manufactured home -- commonly known as a "trailer":
One advantage of the "mobile home" designation of HOM:
There are a number of differences between the more traditional construction of most prefabs and the construction of manufactured housing. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before buying. We'll write more on those differences soon.
model: Model 1
size: 1,000 sf
model: Model 2
size: 2,000 sf
model: Model 3
size: 3,600 sf
status: prototype/not yet for sale
method: trailers ("manufactured")
housing code: HUD
A bit more about the two new homes:
With these two additional models, pieceHomes offers nine standard models, ranging in size from the one bedroom, 320 sf Container House to the 1,900sf Cube House. All of the pieceHomes models, including three custom projects, can be seen in their online brochure (pdf).
The extraPieces concept sounds intriguing:
The extraPieces range includes studio, master suite, and extension modules. This product is the first I've seen that offers such prefab solutions specifically for adding a room to your existing home. If they can match a traditional look, perhaps it could be Scott's prefab kitchen?
model: extraPieces from pieceHomes
size: 475 - 910 sf
With MoMA's Home Delivery exhibition just 6 weeks out, signs of substantive progress are appearing. And it's definitely fun to follow along.
From an article in the New York Sun last week:
Check out the full Home Delivery blog to see videos, images and tons of updates on each home's construction. Read the full New York Sun article for more detail on the Burst* project and the exhibition.
author: Gabrielle Birkner
publication: The New York Sun
length: 875 words
publication date: May 29, 2008
Why is this exhibition so helpful? Ecolectic sums it up:
And Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper goes into further detail:
Treehugger likes the idea:
size: 850 sf
how: plywood kit
From the mailbox:
The two options:
Also worth mentioning: basic weeHouse pricing for any region in the country is now available. Kudos to the weeHouse folks for making that information so accessible!
model: 2x4 weeHouse
designer: Alchemy Architects
price: from $319,000 (~$150/sf)
size: 2,150 sf
how: complete modules
model: 4x4 weeHouse
designer: Alchemy Architects
price: from $319,000 (~$150/sf)
size: 2,090 sf
how: complete modules
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday discussed the Method Homes Modular Cabin:
Jetson Green covered the Énóvo House, a modular from Montreal:
Jetson Green also shared several photos of the Canühome:
We'll be sure to cover all three models in more detail soon.
(Dated Saturday but actually posted on Sunday. Sorry for the delay.)
Via Curbed LA:
LivingHomes is partnering with Philadelphia-based architecture firm KieranTimberlake Associates on an “expandable” single-family (pictured above) prefab green homes that can grow from 900 square feet to 2,230 square feet. All parts of the home are made in a factory--and owners can essentially order more parts of their home as their family grows... Additionally, the home will be priced at $215 a square foot, but as the country catches on to the expandable home, costs are expected to drop to $155 a home.
The post quotes Steve Glenn of LivingHomes:
As you marry, have kids, add in-laws to the household, etc., you’re either moving a lot or constantly renovating, which is time-consuming, expensive, stressful, and very wasteful from a resource perspective.... LivingHomes by KieranTimberlake introduce an important new capability to homes – the ability to efficiently and cost-effectively adapt to people’s changing lifestyle living needs.
As a cured architect and developer, I could only dream of what the result might be if one mixed the talents and innovations of architects like Kieran Timberlake with a business visionary like Steve Glenn and set them to produce small, efficient projects that don't need a Silicon Valley multimillionaire's income to own.
That's worth some research, and we'll share the details soon.
Materialicio.us reported on the nomad home:
Another modular, truckable prefab, this time from Austria, by architect Gerold Peham. Sizes range from 44m2 [473 sf] to 88m2 [947 sf].
Materialicio.us also covered abōd:
Abōd™ was created by BSB Design to provide affordable housing for families in Africa. Easily mass-produced and deliverable by truck, ship or plane, the “home in a box” includes the entire 120sf structure (unassembled) that fits into a box 4’ x 12’ x 2’...
Treehugger shared the RuralZED prefab from the UK:
We were very excited when Sami first showed us ruralZED, the UK's first commercially viable, affordable and ready to purchase zero-carbon home; now there is more information on the RuralZED website.
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday featured two different homes this week. They also covered RuralZED:
...they claim [it] is Britain’s most affordable green prefab home and is also able to meet its strictest energy standards. Oh, and did we mention that it is a flatpack?And looked at the iPAD:
We’ve been waiting and hoping for more from New Zealand architect Andre Hodgskin who first wowed us with BACHKIT™, a gorgeous holiday home of prefab pavilions designed in 2000.
affordability is key. A lot of companies are selling their factory-built work at $400-500/square foot—and they are gorgeous, but very expensive. Our goal is to produce some homes at the $200/sq foot level….we’d prefer to sell more smaller, affordable homes to more clients than a big, expensive home to a really wealthy client...
Jetson Green loves the Rapson Greenbelt, mentioned last week.
Treehugger looked at a unique prefab:
When your hard drive is full you can plug in another, because they are all designed to be modular and interchangeable. Why shouldn't houses work that way?
architecture.MNP found a cool Danish design:
Designed by Danish firm ONV Architects, the home is a modular [really?] prefab that is both customizable and [supposedly] affordable.
Jeriko House is based on a sophisticated high-tech 'kit-of-parts' building system providing high strength and incredible ease of assembly.... The heart of this system is its unique high-performance aluminum framing derived from the 'T-slot' framing commonly used in industrial automation applications. Made from aerospace-grade aluminum formed into precision shaped 'profiles' offering the approximate strength of steel with a great savings in weight, the Jeriko House frame structure is resilient, weatherproof, rustproof, and pest-proof....
In addition to custom options, the Web site shows four sample floorplans:
As of July 2007, three projects were underway:
...now under construction in Louisiana: a 4320-sq-ft Lakefront home; a 5500-sq-ft luxury home in Mandeville; and a 250-sq-ft garden retreat in Metairie...
model: Jeriko House
designer: Jeriko House
size: 2,032 - 4,320 sf
how: kit of parts
...six hundred and twenty square feet of efficient, modern design with two bedrooms, tons of storage, all of the necessities and a few of the niceties of life...
The building is essentially a sixteen foot deep wall; ... the maximum width that can go down the road, and Martin Kohn took advantage of this to create the thin, long structure....
model: Royal Q 1
designer: Kohn Shnier Architects
manufacturer: Royal Homes
size: 620 sf
how: complete modules
...over 1000 sqft of beautifully designed and detailed contemporary house or office. It is entirely manufactured under controlled factory conditions, which guarantees both quality of build and delivery time. m-house arrives in two pieces, each 3m (10' approx) wide, which are then joined together on site, which takes about a day. It comes completely fitted-out and ready for you to move into immediately, and delivery is 12 weeks after order.
designer: Tim Pyne
price: ~$290,000 (~$290/sf)
size: 1,000 sf
how: 2 modules
Periodically we like to look back at early prefabs. Architect and furniture designer Marcel Lajos Breuer (1902 - 1981) was a contemporary of Jean Prouvé (1901 - 1984). In 1942, Breuer designed the Plas-2-Point as "easily transportable, low-cost housing for returning GIs".
More details from a University of Oregon research paper:
This building was in fact never built, but is well documented as a pioneer in prefabricated housing types because of its ability to be mass produced with all the benefits this entailed in terms of cost improved quality, and above all, given post-war demand, rapid production....
Those interested in the home's structure should read the full paper.
designer: Marcel Breuer
how: complete modules
title: Plas-2-Point House
author: Tony Salas and Steve Bolinger
length: 1,150 words
date: Spring 1995
Zenkaya is a prefab from South Africa:
The Zenkaya is delivered completed, ready to live in, to your site right on the back of a flat bed truck.
The wall panels feature Chromadek (coated metal) on the outside and either polystyrene or OSB (oriented strand board) on the inside.
In form, the Zenkaya models remind me of the concrete perrinepod.
Last year, Apartment Therapy New York called the homes "stunning."
I love the fabulous ZENKAYA as much as anyone else.
[SPACEOUTLOUD] shared photos of the homes on display at a show in Cape Town.
how: complete modules
Zenkaya models range from 86 sf to 790 sf:
model: ZENKAYA Original
size: 220-660 sf
model: ZENKAYA Mini
size: 91 sf
size: 220-790 sf
size: 86 sf
Santa Monica-based Minarc has a (minimal) new website for their M3house.
We admired the Minarc house by Tryggvi Thorsteinsson and Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir when it was in Dwell; now we learn that they are offering it in a prefab version. The designers...have wanted to design a high-tech modern home that only used materials "in their most organic form and that used recycled materials wherever possible."...They are offering three modular versions built from 2x6 walls, lots of insulation and radiant flooring.
land+living shared several images of a non-prefab prototype from a tour last year. The Minarc brochure (pdf) released at the time explained their eBOX series 05. It looks like the M3house will be quite different.
We look forward to more details on the new home. The image above is the only thing on the new site; what a tease!
how: complete modules
Don't know what it costs, don't know what it's made of ... I will just say it is very pretty.
Jetson Green jumped in:
So I ask, after looking at the photos, does this Magic Box represent what's to come in the future? The Magic Box is cubic and versatile and small. It can go anywhere and be used as anything.
Not sure where The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday went, but they've been off since Jan. 3.
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday discussed a strange "prefab":
Winter shelter in the Arctic can take form in an upside down hunting boat – a traditional Inuit practice. Covey Island Boatworks, award winning builders of hand-crafted yachts, power and sailboats, has brought that idea into dry dock developing a prototype wood and epoxy prefab that applies boatbuilding principles directly to an extreme Arctic home.
Jetson Green showed off the flexibility of shipping containers:
It's hard not to gawk at the images of this building.
(Posted on Monday, but dated Saturday to match the rest of our This Week series.)
From a recent MetroShed press release:
MetroShed ... has launched a brand new livable 12 foot deep by 16 foot wide MetroCabin for sale in the U.S.
Jetson Green wants one:
Matter of fact, I've said it before, but I'd love to have one of these in the back to blog and exercise in.
model: 12' x 16' MetroCabin
size: ~190 sf
price: $17,460 ($92/sf)
There is really nothing new about many of the modern prefabs that everyone is going gaga over; back in the 70's Finnish architect Matti Suuronen designed the Venturo, a bit less extreme than his wonderful Futuro House. It appears to have been used primarily as gas stations for BP.
More from Finnish blog Tuovinen:
The "Venturo" is a modular, easily transportable building system, having excellent insulation, low weight and designed for minimum assembly on site.
Nineteen Venturos were built:
First prototype of this model was designed January 9, 1971 and first production unit was built June 1, 1971. According to Museum of Finnish Architecture, BP was built in 1971. BP-Högmo is the second Venturo built according to MFA....
Capitalising on the Futuro´s international exposure, Polykem Ltd. soon launched a whole series of plastic buildings designed by Suuronen. The Casa Finlandia series included the CF-100/200 service station (1969), the CF-10 kiosk (1970) and the CF-45 residential/commercial building, better known as the Venturo (1971). All the buildings in the Casa Finlandia series were designed to be durable and convenient to mass-produce, transport and assemble. The numerical suffix in each building´s name indicates its floor area in square metres. Polykem strove to sharpen the international profile of the Casa Finlandia series by publishing stylish 4-colour brochures complete with vivid product descriptions and catchy slogans.
More on the Futuro House from enthusiast Marc Berting:
Matti Suuronen designed this UFO shaped dwelling in 1968, initially for use as a ski-cabin or holiday home....
The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday took the week off.
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday looked at a Swiss prefab that uses straw bales:
We’re quite taken by Strohhaus in Eschenz, Switzerland. Designed by Zurich-based architect Felix Jerusalem, this home masterfully combines prefab with sustainable materials, primarily prefabricated strawboard panels that provide affordable, environmentally sound insulation.
Jetson Green covered GreenMobile, an "ultra-affordable, modular green [manufactured] home":
GreenMobile was awarded $5.8 M from FEMA to further develop the prototype and roughly 80 units are in the pipeline right after that prototype comes through.
The system is based on the separation of a building into "serving space" and "naked space".
Each unit fits in a shipping container, giving it the characteristic "long and narrow" format. Several units can be placed side by side:
Overall, an intriguing approach that I can't wait to see realized at MoMA. Oskar Leo Kaufmann and Albert Rüf have been experimenting with prefab since 1996. We'll look at their past work in more depth soon!
designer: Oskar Leo Kaufmann and Albert Rüf
how: complete modules
From the Dwell blog:
The Consumer Electronics Show may have the flashiest booths of any trade gathering in the world. .... So imagine my relief when I saw a modest prefab home built at the far end of one of the main halls. .... It was built inside the convention center for Olevia, a company that makes energy efficient televisions.
MocoLoco provided more details:
...the exhibit at CES represents the first built prototype.and quotes an email from Michael Sylvester of Fabprefab fame:
The house has modern lines and a long cantilevered roof - you can hardly see that this home is based on the adaptive re-use of two forty foot cargo containers.
Inhabitat liked the prototype:
...the stunning shipping container prefab definitely caught our eye.
The line of homes is based on the architect's Redondo Beach House:
The traditional design, permit and construction process, compounded by skyrocketing construction costs, has necessitated a re-birth of the design/build approach to creating Architecture.... This project is a Recycled Steel Shipping Container based building that also employs a combination of conventional stick frame construction and prefabricated assemblies. These materials result in an end product that is affordable and nearly indestructable. The modified containers are mold proof, fire proof, termite proof, structurally superior to wood framing and along with various other “components” come together to create a system/kit of parts that is predicated on cost savings, construction timesavings, and energy/environmentally conscious priorities....
CNN covered the Redondo Beach Home in 2006:
(Hat tip: Treehugger commented.)
Update: The model appearing in the MoMA show will be the BURST*008.
Artdaily provides some details:
Designed to be assembled on site from laser-cut pieces, the Burst *003 house is a computer-designed remake of the typical prefabricated box. Working from a computer formula that automates the specific pieces needed to create the house desired, the project is based on a system that can be adapted to a changing set of criteria. The 2003 prototype of the Burst *003 project was built on Australia's Northeast coast, and won the Royal Australian Institute of Architects 2006 Wilkinson award.
Architecture Australia explains further:
Laying out the plywood pieces was achieved using the software program used in garment manufacture with very little wastage. While high technology is used throughout the design and manufacturing process, low technology is intentionally employed for assembly and for maintenance. Assembly requires fewer skills but intense cooperation and concentration. The building was put together by architecture students in something akin to a barn raising. The architects are fond of this image, yet recognize that the design’s reliance on numbers of enthusiastic and sympathetic cheap labourers will make it less desirable for some.
Plywood cut by a computer-controlled laser. Delivered to site in sheets with the ribs numbered, scored, and holes cut.
Laser cutting 1 of 400 sheets.
Sorting 1,100 pieces of laser-cut plywood.
Underside of floor structure.
Laser-cutting efficiency -- the total waste from the plywood sheets.
I can't help but be excited for the potential of the BURST* system and look forward to seeing the home at MoMA.
how: kit of parts
The New York Times says:
Mr. Horden’s Micro Compact House — Mr. Bergdoll [of MoMA] described it as “a giant livable Sony radio cube” — is topped with photovoltaic panels and has wind turbines in its walls, allowing the house to generate its own electricity. An aluminum-clad perfect cube, with about 76 square feet of living space, the tiny dwelling is intended for use as athletic or student housing, or as a miniature vacation house. Mr. Bergdoll met with Mr. Horden in one of his cubes, a space so compact that the architect managed to make espresso on the kitchen counter without leaving his seat at the dining table.
From the micro compact home site:
The micro compact home [m-ch] is a lightweight compact dwelling for one or two people. Its compact dimensions of 2.6m [8.5 ft] cube adapt it to a variety of sites and circumstances, and its functioning spaces of sleeping, working / dining, cooking and hygiene make it suitable for everyday use.
The m-ch has a timber frame structure with anodised aluminium external cladding, insulated with polyurethane and fitted with aluminium frame double glazed windows and front door with security double lock; graphics can be applied for sponsors, exhibition and business use.
More images of the interior:
size: 74 sf
price: EUR 25,000 - 34,000 (~$37,000-$50,000; $500-$675/sf)
how: complete modules
Yesterday we reported on the Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling exhibition at MoMA. In the coming days, we will preview each of the companies and homes featured in the exhibition.
This design of yourHOUSE is a reinterpretation of historical New Orleans style “Shotgun” Housing utilizing recycled plywood as the main structural material. The house will be fabricated and assembled entirely of friction-fit components, completely eliminating the need for mechanical fasteners such as nails and screws. This fabrication technique is made possible through the extensive use of computer numerical control (CNC) milling machines....
The processes include:
Digitalization is a 2-stage process which preceeds a materialziation process. First, 2-dimensional data was taken from the documentation and used to create elevation drawings. From this data, 3-dimensional data was extrapolated and digitally modeled so that the house facades could be transformed into solid physical models through a final materialization process.
Materialization begins by breaking down the digital model into a logic of component parts and assemblies. In the figure above is one such breakdown of a front porch column assembly
The final stage in the materialization process involves what is termed, 3D printing. This stage allows the researcher to examine the digital model as a solid physical body. In the figure above are 1:30 scale 3D prints of the four originally documented New Orleans 'Shotgun' house facades
The yourHouse concept also embraces customization:
One of the core strategies driving project yourHOUSE is the use of mass-customized as well as mass-standardized components. This strategy happens at multiple scales ranging from details to major structural features. As seen in the figure above, the main body of the house employs a standardized structural shell while the front porch of the house can be customized to suit the inhabitant's desires.
It will be exciting to see this concept realized for the MoMA show.
model: yourHouse by Lawrence Sass
how: kit of parts
The New York Times reports:
...the Museum of Modern Art has commissioned five architects to erect their own prefab dwellings in a vacant lot on West 53rd Street, adjacent to the museum. Whittled down from a pool of about 400, the five architects are participating in “Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling,” an exhibition opening in July.
The MoMa site fills in some blanks:
This exhibition will offer the most thorough examination of both the historical and contemporary significance of factory-produced architectures to date. With increasing concern about issues such as sustainability and the swelling global population, prefabrication has again taken center stage as a prime solution to a host of pressing needs. The prefabricated structure has long served as a central precept in the history of modern architecture, and it continues to spur innovative manufacturing and imaginative design....
A Prefab Project says:
Perhaps notable for the absence of any of the commercially successful prefab architects working in the US, still kind of a big deal...
Haute Nature also commented.
What: Exhibition: Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling
Where: MoMa New York City
When: July 20 - October 20, 2008
From the miniHome site:
In order to provide more living space in the miniHome SOLO, we have been asked by many of you to allow for additions. The best way to do this was to work with the exisiting floor levels and roof lines of the SOLO, and find a way to ‘marry’ the two pieces to give the best interior spaces.
The result: the miniHome DUO SE:
The miniHome DUO is a modified miniHome SOLO with more! Two units ship separately to your site, and then combine at the ‘marriage wall’ - a simple operation that makes the DUO a permanent home1. Both units are classed as trailers (CSA Z220- RV), are on wheels and a steel chassis and both feature detachable hitches. The units can be towed to any site and requires no foundation or infrastructure hook-ups. Designed and built in Canada for year round living, the DUO’s robust construction is super-insulated, making it quick and easy to heat and cool. The DUO also features an optional woodstove, for colder climates.
For the environmentally minded:
The DUO has numerous environmental advantages over conventional housing. A smaller building uses less resources and energy to build, and ultimately much less energy to operate and maintain. The modular design also keeps construction waste, shipping costs and energy to a minimum.
Jetson Green wants one:
Really, anything is possible with this little treasure home. Small. Stylish. Green. Affordable.
model: miniHome DUO SE (pdf)
size: 474 sf
price: $149,900 ($316/sf)
bedrooms: sleeps 6
On the heels of the port-a-bach comes news of the iPad, another prefab "bach" (see note below) from New Zealand:
The iPAD is a true kitset bach designed to covers a range of options; it could be a one bedroom holiday home, secondary dwelling, granny flat, office, studio or resort unit to name but a few.
size: 530 sf (~1,100 sf with decks)
price: NZ$125,000 (~$97,000)
how: complete modules or kit
Bach = "small structures like beach huts or small holiday homes" (from Shedworking)
(Hat tip: Materialicio.us)
...tear-down on spacious lot with panoramic views from the Hollywood Hills to the Pacific. Also available: plans & construction contract to build a ... loft-style custom home by Red Barn Prefab.
Red Barn Prefab builds "red barns" around the Southwest:
Venice based designer, Andres Ariza started his design career as a result of a frustrating housing search for himself and his then 4 year-old son.... Ariza’s concept has now been refined and launched as a turnkey complete home that is available in 9 states under the moniker “Red Barn Prefab.”
Two more projects are planned, Case Study Houses No.5 and No.6. Features include:
(Hat tip: Curbed LA)
Port-a-bach is a product from atelierworkshop, a New Zealand firm:
Our architecture seeks to reveal the landscape and the environment through innovation and common sense.... Without compromising on design, we put priority on finding sustainable solutions.
The holiday home concept is built in a standard shipping container:
Additional features include:
- fully enclosed exterior steel shell (when folded up).
Be sure to check out the video of the home unfolding on their site.
bedrooms: "sleeps two adults and two children"
how: shipping containers
the home can be delivered in as little as 5 weeks.... [It comes] completely assembled, and all the owner would have to do is hook up the electric, the water and the sewer, and their home is ready to go.
Our favorite, the “solar butterfly” roof design, collects rainwater, maximizes the use of daylight, and is fitted with solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity - all for about $100,000!
The structure is framed in high-recycled-content steel, in SIP form. You can buy casa ti in kit form or buy the plans to build it from scratch. Prices for the kit start at $20,000.
Treehugger looks back: Three Years Ago In TreeHugger: Prefab Crazy.
Holy Moly Batman…a house that powers itself, composts its own waste, collects its own water, and is completely automatic doing all of these things. When can I get one?
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday wrote about the Linx Shipping Container Shelter, a container concept from Ireland:
Using 20-foot shipping containers, Barnwall’s idea provides functional shelter for workers on a construction site offering all the amenities needed to give workers a comfortable place for pause.
It is an ingenious and very well resolved idea for revolutionizing the way we build houses, breaking it down into components that snap together much like an office system.
Materialicio.us also discussed the home, with commentary by Greg La Vardera:
I think it is tremendously clever, and has the characteristics of a truly disruptive technology. It has the potential to change radically the way we build houses.
...now the lots, which come with plans to build, are listed at $295,000 and $275,000Last month's prices: $349,000 and $337,000.
Michelle Kaufmann's mkLoft will be used in a new development in Denver. From the Rocky Mountain News:
Denver developers Susan Powers and Chuck Perry are teaming with Kaufmann to put 40 factory-built town houses on 21 acres near Regis University at West 52nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard. The 1,100- to 1,500-square-foot town houses will be built at the All American Homes factory in Milliken, in Weld County, and trucked 60 miles, in sections, to the Denver site for assembly.
Read more about the plans in the full article.
Author: Mary Winter
Publication: Rocky Mountain News
Length: 625 words
Date: October 27, 2007
Habode homes are environmentally responsible pre-fab buildings that are tailored to your specifications. All of the houses are the same size (80 square meters), but the floor plan, window placement and doors are all up to you.The company has offices in Australia and New Zealand.
Treehugger covered an historic prefab from 1937:
...integrated furniture and appliances, transformer beds, five hundred bucks (about $15 PSF)- what's not to love?
The structures are also easily expanded, so you can combine different Cabana’s to make whatever size you need, which is pretty cool.
Deck House and Acorn both feature open plans, walls of glass, and soaring volume spaces. Both are custom designed for the customer and the site.
Empyrean designs each house individually; homeowners can choose to modify an existing floorplan or start from scratch.
The company has been building prefabs since the 1960's. From the Empyrean site:
Deck House, Inc., was founded in 1959 by William Berkes, a graduate of Harvard University School of Design. Having pioneered other building systems, he founded Deck House, Inc. in order to provide top quality post and beam houses to upscale professional families...
model: Deck House
style: traditional, post and beam
manufacturer: Empyrean International
manufacturer: Empyrean International
This spacious 2-story, 2-bedroom + loft features a double-high ceiling in the living room, creating an open, harmonious environment for reflection and creativity.
The Good Human was impressed:
She has done it again - come out with another stunning example of what a modern prefab can be.
Inhabitat noted the low price of the homes:
Depending on volume and finishes, the typical mkLoft ranges from $130 to $140/sf. This does not include the cost of land nor the permit approval process.
price: ~$500,000 (~$135/sf)
bedrooms: 2 - 3
bathrooms: 2 - 3
This video has been getting a lot of attention; it has 739 Diggs and counting.
The company is known as MasterFit in the US and MetalFit in Japan. However, the only website we can find for the company is the Japanese site. (Google translation)
Treehugger saw the system a couple years back:
"The components of the house are actually numbered, and are constructed as you would a piece of kit furniture. Materials cost 10-20% more than those for conventional framing, but the cost is offset by reduced labor expense..."
The "no tools" approach is similar to the kitHAUS system, except with wood members. Both systems enable relatively unskilled laborers to frame an entire home.
The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday included a YouTube video (3:38) of the Marmol Radziner factory in Los Angeles. (That video and others also appears on the Marmol Radziner site, as we discovered in August.)
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday took a break this week.
The video includes a thorough look at the home and an interview with A. Quincy Vale, President of Powerhouse Enterprises. Sounds like the company is taking orders for the home now.
Jetson Green likes the home:
"I really like the PowerPod. It's modular, green, and very simple in design. The PowerPod could be used as a home for a bachelor or intimate duo, but it's more likely going to be used as an office, vacation abode, lake cabin, or something like that."
Author: Martin LaMonica
Publication: CNET News
Date: September 18, 2007
At the building conference last month, I spoke with a rep at ParcoHomes, a prefab start-up out of San Francisco. From what I gathered, the company plans to employ mass production techniques currently used for commercial buildings. Parts would be manufactured offshore, packaged, and shipped by sea and truck to your homesite. From the ParcoHomes website:
"We are designing, manufacturing and distributing resource efficient, modern, prefabricated homes employing a 'flat-pack' delivery approach. Our kit of parts is made up of metal-framed floor, roof and wall panels supported on a structural frame. The entire kit of parts is based on a four-foot planning module to allow for an ideal balance between constructability and flexibility."
EcoInfill is currently building the prototype of their Ei1 concept. The concept home's flexibility allows it to "be installed as a single family home, addition, or entire townhome project." I spoke with someone from Sexton + Lawton Architecture, the designers of the homes. He said that the homes will cost them ~$95/sf coming out of the factory; this translates to ~$175/sf installed. While the model home is not yet complete, they are hoping for a 3 month timeline from foundation work to move-in.
SG Blocks repurposes shipping containers for architectural purposes. Many companies building from recycled shipping containers are sourcing their product from SG Blocks. I spoke with a rep who explained that the $200/sf+ cost of building with recycled shipping containers is justified by the added strength and durability.
In addition to these prefab builders, there were a number of SIP manufacturers present. These include Alternative Building Concepts, Shimotsu Architecture and Distribution, and SIP Home Systems. I saw some interesting features, like pre-drilled mechanical chases for electrical connections.
While MKD made the biggest impression at West Coast Green, there were a couple of other prefab vendors present. pieceHomes, a new prefab company out of Los Angeles, is definitely worth a look. The offering is a collaboration between LA-based architecture firm davis studio Architecture + Design and modular builder XtremeHomes.
From the pieceHomes site:
"The pieceHomesTM standard line includes homes ranging from the 320sf Container House to the 1,825sf Venice Two. Davis Studio A+D has focused on designing smaller homes that will be affordable to a wide range of customers and that are particularly well suited for infill urban lots. These homes will be available complete and installed for under $200 per square foot. Every home will use a simple palate of green materials, energy efficient technologies, and sustainable construction practices. Davis Studio A+D will provide services to locate the house on the property to effectively take advantage of solar orientation, prevailing winds, local views and privacy issues."
"PieceHomes plants to distinguish itself among the pack by providing custom and standardized, modern, modular architecture that is green and afffordable. With a variety of home designs taking shape, PieceHomes will be available this fall..."
size: 320sf - 2,600sf
The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday discussed the m-house:
"Based in the UK, it is not available here in the United States, but I sure wish it was. The house is over 1000 square feet and is delivered to your site in 2 pieces and then assembled. Costing ~£147,500 (about $297,000) the house is not cheap, but at the same time is pretty reasonable considering what you get for the price."
Treehugger reminisced on prefabs announced two years ago.
CubeMe wrote about the Drop House, a prefab prototype:
"Here is a Prototype of a really cool-looking portable house."Several of the rooms pop out from the main house volume.
The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday explained why they write about prefab.
"Green and tidy!"
We'll discuss Inhabitat's Prefab Friday post about the mkLotus in a separate post.
Jetson Green discussed another prefab prototype, the Tread Lightly House.
From our mailbox:
"A recently completed RES4 PREFAB, the RES4 ZIMWEX (aka swingline), is located on a wooded three-acre site in East Hampton, New York, and serves as a 4200 sf year-round haven for two women and their four kids who split time between Manhattan and the Hamptons."
Additional images can be seen on Resolution: 4 Architecture's website.
I sent an e-mail off to Resolution: 4 on September 2 seeking further details but received no response.
company: Resolution: 4 Architecture
style: modern, wood finish
size: 4,200 sf
more info: project page
The Dwell on Design conference is this weekend in San Francisco.
We won't be there, but here's who will:
We heard from Alchemy Architects:
"Alchemy Architects will be at Dwell on Design 2007 with a weeHouse to 'tour'. Amazing, but we had a CA client who's weeHouse is just being finished...so it'll stop in San Fran on its way to San Diego. It's a very exciting opportunity for people who are interested in a weeHouse to see a weeHouse. We'll be in the outdoor, prefab section."
Some prefab-specific events that will be worth checking out:
what: Dwell on Design conference
where: Concourse Exhibition Center, San Francisco, CA
when: September 14-16, 2007
sponsor: Dwell Magazine
registration: $20 for Exhibition Only pass, September 15-16. $895 for full conference and exhibition passport.
features: over 80 exhibitors and vendors
One of only 11 Frank Lloyd Wright prefab homes has been dismantled, moved and reconstructed as a guest house in Pennsylvania.
From an article in the Cincinnati Post:
"Duncan House had been built in the Chicago suburb of Lisle in 1957 for Donald and Elizabeth Duncan. It's been moved to the rolling hills in the Laurel Highlands of west Pennsylvania, near a town with the unlikely name of Acme...It's only 15 miles from Wright's most famous house named Fallingwater....
Duncan House is now owned by Tom Papinchak, who has said he's had guests nearly every night since the June opening....
Duncan House has some Wright trademarks: a low ceiling in the entrance hall, a three-step drop into a large living room, a kitchen entrance from the carport.
The story is told that the modern little ranch of 2,200 square feet was discovered by the Duncans in a store about prefabs in the December, 1956, issue of House and Home Magazine. Duncan was an electrical engineer who thought Wright designed for wealthy people, but the architect wished to design middle-class housing toward the end of his career. The Duncans ordered the No. 1 prefab house, which Wright had manufactured by the Erdman Co. in Madison, Wisc. Factory-assembled windows, cut lumber, cabinetry and partial walls were delivered on flatbed trucks. There's no evidence that Wright personally visited the Duncans while their prefab was put up."
what: Frank Lloyd Wright prefab guest house
where: Acme, PA
price: $385 per night
Mfinity offers the MicroSystem series of prefab structures, with options ranging from a small microSHED to the larger microHome.
From the Mfinity press release:
"The average American home is roughly 2,200 square feet yet the microHOME is less than a 100 square feet. A mix between a small house, a ship's cabin, and a travel trailer, it comes standard with a kitchenette, including a sink, stove, refrigerator and storage, as well as a private bathroom with a pass-thru shower and composting toilet. There are also a multitude of interior options and porch styles to choose from allowing the homeowner to personalize their own dwelling. With just a single 8 foot by 12 foot unit the microHOME can provide all the daily needs of three occupants."
"Leading the prefab industry, our free delivery and set up service is a critical aspect of the microSYSTEM philosophy. No matter where you live within the contiguous United States you pay the same low price for your microSYSTEM."
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday offered some skepticism:
"It's hard to imagine how in the world a person (let alone a family!) could live sanely in just 100 square feet. Perhaps as a temporary shelter it would provide welcome relief, but in the long term we suspect anyone would crave some elbow room."
Michael Cannell weighed in on the Dwell blog:
"It feels like a cross between a backwoods cabin and a trailer - prefab with an ironical folksy edge....it hardly seems like a bargain, though delivery and installation are included."
style: single room, detached storage shed
size: 96sf - 192sf
price: $15,995 - $33,995 (~$175/sf)
more info: microSHED brochure (pdf)
style: single room, detached structure(s)
size: 96sf - 192sf
price: $26,995 - $52,995 (~$275/sf)
more info: microSTUDIO brochure (pdf)
style: single room, detached structure(s)
size: 96sf - 192sf
price: $37,995 - $63,995 ($333/sf - $400/sf)
more info: microCABANA brochure (pdf)
style: single room, detached structure(s) with kitchenette
size: 96sf - 192sf
price: $39,995 - $65,995 ($340/sf - $415/sf)
more info: microHOME brochure (pdf)
Yesterday we covered a slideshow essay at Slate that criticized the current "prefab fad." Rybczynski has a 3 part indictment:
"unpopular, expensive and divorced from industrial production".We're not sure whether he's paying attention.
As for "unpopular", Modernist homes (prefab or otherwise) are aimed at a specific audience:
"Where are all these people who live in cool lofts and spaces in the city supposed to go when they move to the country? They certainly don't want to go live in a colonial-style house." (Robert Luntz of Resolution: 4, quoted in Builder Online)
It's unlikely that modernist prefab will sweep away the dominant preference for traditional homes. But it could easily become a profitable (self-sustaining) niche. Our favorite example is the one that we (Peter and Scott) are using to create and edit this post: the Macintosh still has less than 10% overall market share but represents a thriving business that continues to dominate several niche markets.
Prefab doesn't just mean modernist, e.g. Hive Modular offers a (mostly) traditional facade, Empyrean's Deck House and Acorn are classic "post and beam", and the "traditional" modular housing industry is growing.
The current crop of prefab architects want to make "good design" more affordable.
"Most architects working in prefab are trying to create standard designs, to reduce the cost and risk to the client, and bring the services of talented architects to smaller houses." (Lloyd Alter on Treehugger, quoted in May)
"While her first customers tended to fit the stereotype of the Prius-driving, NPR-listening eco-consumer, Kaufmann is increasingly fielding inquiries from people who just want an attractive, affordable house." (From an article on Michelle Kaufmann in July.)
Has the prefab industry achieved its goals? No. Is it headed in the right direction? We think so.
The perrinepod is a prefab product out of Australia made from a precast concrete shell. While the pods are heavy, assembly takes just three days and the pods are engineered to stack up to 30 units high.
PerthNow reported on the house last week:
"Here's something for the 'I want it now' generation - a house that can be erected in three days. But this is no flimsy, mail order, do-it-yourself number, the Perrinepod is made from pre-cast, pre-stressed and tensioned concrete and is cyclone and earthquake proof."Worth noting:
"With more than 100 orders on his books already, including some from resorts, developers and other corporate groups, Perrine is quite confident the pod will take off."
Inhabitat was impressed.
Materialicio.us was too.
size: 515sf - 1,030sf
bedrooms: 1 - 2
price: $125,000 - $250,000
how: precast concrete
finish level: complete, inside and out, including mechanical systems
Last week, CNET posted a photo gallery of a modular home with solar electric, solar hot water and other green features:
"PowerHouse Enterprises has designed a house--which could attain official green-building certification--that is delivered by flat-bed truck and crane. In June, the Lawrence, Mass.-based company shipped a two-unit model home to a site in Cambridge, Mass...Jetson Green was impressed:
A key design element of this green building is its metal roof, which on first thought may not seem energy-efficient. After all, metal absorbs heat, and air conditioners consume a lot of electricity.
But PowerHouse's metal roof serves two specific purposes: heating the house in the cold season and generating electricity. Builders run plastic water tubes under the roof. The water is heated by the sun and distributed through the house to supply hot water and warm the house. The house also has solar electric panels to generate electricity during the day....
The company expects the two-unit project, begun in late June, to be done by the end of August."
"Power Pod Can Reduce Energy Costs Up to 80%. And that's pretty incredible"
Treehugger is a fan:
"The modular green prefab biz is full of difficult choices and tradeoffs. The Powerhouse people appear to have thought about them carefully here. Small, green, just drop it in place, what could be better?"
Title: A modular solar home takes root
Date: August 7, 2007
One year ago, Kiplinger's Personal Finance featured an article on Fabulous Prefabs.
"The couple wanted to keep a lid on building costs, but they did not want to sacrifice great design and solid construction. They met both goals with a two-story modern built by Alchemy Architects, in St. Paul. 'During the day we have a lake view from 8-foot windows,' says Scott. 'But when we close the curtains at night, the living room is chic enough to feel like a New York City apartment.'The article also outlines some key differences between panelized and modular construction:
The McGlassons' hideaway -- with two bedrooms, one bathroom and tons of personality -- is a prefabricated home. The components were assembled in a factory, trucked to their lot and put together....
Scott and Lisa paid $95,000 for their second home. They chose the layout of the first story from a half-dozen of Alchemy Architects' plans and added a second story to the blueprints, expanding the size to 780 square feet. The firm hired a Wisconsin factory to manufacture the house's components, a process that took about six weeks. The components were trucked from the factory on a flatbed, and a crane helped assemble them (delivery and crane costs ran $6,000). The McGlassons hired contractors to connect the house's wiring to the electrical grid, dig a well and do other finishing work. The final tally was about $160,000, including fixtures and appliances."
"Panelized houses are made of sections stuffed with wiring and insulation. The panels are trucked to your lot, where contractors hired by you (or less commonly, by the prefab firm) join them together. Panelized houses tend to cost more than modular ones. But because the panels can be arranged in different ways, panelized houses can have custom options....Kiplinger's included a slideshow that covers several companies we've covered here:
The flexibility of a panelized house makes it superior for building on mountain, beach and lakefront locations, which tend to have more quirks than the typical suburban lot....
The major limitation of modular houses is size: Modular units must be able to travel down highways. 'We have to do a lot of thinking within the box,' jokes Joseph Tanney, a partner at Resolution: 4 Architecture, a New York firm that builds prefab homes using modular and other methods. What's more, modular houses often need thicker-than-usual interior walls to ensure that they will withstand the stress of being lifted onto your lot by a crane. (Panelized homes don't face this problem.) These thicker walls reduce the number of floor plans because there are only so many ways the fatter walls can be disguised."
• Alchemy Architects
• Lazor Office
• EcoSteel (aka EcoContempo)
• Taalman Koch
• Resolution: 4 Architecture
• Rocio Romero.
Title: Fabulous Prefabs
Author: Sean O-Neill
Publication: Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Length: 1,500 words
Date: July, 2006
"Despite a thriving New York practice whose clients include trendy ad agencies and rich people with gaping lofts...Resolution: 4 Architecture has poured itself into a series of designs for manufactured modules that can be combined into three- or four-dozen modern homes. All are striking departures from the choices available to most home buyers today, and all, at least theoretically, are buildable in a factory for something like the price of the banal tract homes gobbling up farmland across America....Read the full article for details on Resolution 4: Architecture and their dreams for prefab.
Nobody sneers at a Lexus because it came off an assembly line. But for some reason modular houses still carry a stigma, which may be why 97% of new American homes are built on site by hand when almost everything else -- cars, clothing, even many foods -- comes from a factory. Yet the quality of modular houses has improved dramatically in recent years even as the quality of traditionally built homes remains mired in mediocrity. When it comes to housing, low construction standards, haste and ever-more-scarce skilled labor have given new meaning to the axiom 'they don't make them like they used to.'"
Title: The Very Model of a Modern Modular House
Author: Daniel Akst
Publication: The Wall Street Journal
Length: 1,030 words
Date: May 29, 2003
This 'caravan' (UK English for trailer), from Retreat Homes can be parked almost anywhere, thanks to its wheels, but it's far from a trailer:
"Classified as a transportable building, it is ready to move into within days and can be situated in places that a conventional home cannot..."
Shedworking loved the idea:
"Although it's aimed at a holiday home market, there is a garden office option....with floor to ceiling windows, oak floors and kitchen or bathroom options, plus furniture suggestions."
company: Retreat Homes
style: modern trailer
size: 480 sf - 1,000 sf
bedrooms: 2 - 3
price: $103,000 - $200,000
finish level: complete, inside and out, including mechanical systems
features/finishes: wood floors, hardwood windows, steel tile roof, Bosch appliances
"The DIY Zigloo Domestique integrates shipping containers, personal and sustainable touches, and lots of hard work. Keith Dewey...designed, built, and documented the construction of his Zigloo Domestique home that epitomizes accessible, green, reclaimed, yet comfortable contemporary prefab architecture....The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday discovered A Prefab Project and likes it as much as we do:
The home is located in Fernwood, one of Victoria's oldest and funkiest areas, and proves that shipping containers are more than just modules for cargo transport or emergency housing. The designer has done a wonderful job of documenting the entire design process, from initial plans to delivery of the containers and final construction and furnishing. The project spans almost two years, and the final residence consists of 8 containers, 1800 square feet, and 3 stories of homey prefab space. Keith's family home design is a great example of shipping containers and prefab techniques as a viable and accessible building approach for just about anyone."
"The blog was started back in December of 2006 with discussions about design and construction, and if you go back and read through the entire thing it is quite a journey....Greenerati anticipates the arrival of the mkLotus at the West Coast Green building conference:
I for one cannot wait to see what it looks like all complete and ready to go!"
"It won't solve the housing problem here in the City but when West Coast Green occurs next month attendees will get a chance to tour a 'zero energy' Green home right smack in the Civic Center across from City Hall. Yes, it's a prefabricated house but not that nasty 'Prefab' often associated with temporary replacement for housing during and after WWII."
Green Options posted on the eco-friendliness of modular and prefab construction:
"Prefabrication and Modularity are new eco buzzwords on the menu this year. From homes to furniture, designers are beginning to employ new methods of construction and transportation to cut waste and energy consumption, ensure safety, and achieve greater overall methods of sustainability."
The California desert seems to draw a lot of prefab prototypes. The JoT House from Yeh+Jerrard LLC is actually named after its prototype location, Joshua Tree, CA. Two original prototypes were built in 2004 in the city and a third was built near Los Angeles.
"Rooms are separated by movable partitions making it easy to convert the house from a one-bedroom loft to a three-bedroom home. The house is planned around a central utility core that houses the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry facilities; this 'box-within-a-box' design centralizes the major mechanical systems, allows for a variety of room configurations and keeps the costs down."
The JoT House website features some cool materials, including a step-by-step depiction (pdf) of the construction process.
I emailed the company on July 18 to request pricing info; no reply. Documentation claims that the price can be "as low as $100 /sf", but that's basically useless information.
model: JoT House
size: 1,344 sf
bedrooms: 1 - 3
model: JoT L
size: 1,370 sf
bedrooms: 1 - 3
style: single room, detached structure
size: 128 sf
notes: no plumbing
(Hat tip: Materialicio.us)
mkLotus is a new prefab concept from Michelle Kaufmann Designs that will debut at the West Coast Green home show. The mkLotus™ modular home is built by XtremeHomes™. "The house features: a living roof, LED lighting, innovative green building materials, indoor & outdoor living." Further details can be found on the mkLotus showhouse page.
Jetson Green is excited about seeing the mkLotus:
"I'm wanting to visit the conference just to see this home and participate in what's going to be the future of residential real estate."
designer: Michelle Kaufmann Designs
size: 672sf - 1,400sf
br: 1 - 2
Quon Modular is a semi-custom prefab system from Australia. Each room is a (mostly) self-contained module, measuring 5 m x 3.1 m (16 ft x 10 ft). Buy exactly what you need placed side-by-side, stacked, or each by itself.
Materialicio.us loves the concept:
"For me, this is the simplest, most efficient system yet devised for a customized, prefabricated house. Design your house using their standard components, place the order, and ten weeks later it's delivered."
Few prefabs offer such a flexible approach. The weeHouse series from Alchemy Architects allows for the addition of specialized modules, such as the sleepTight, but their modules vary in size. v2world was offering a similar product in their v2shell, but last we heard, they were reworking their product line.
company: Quon Modular
size: each module is ~140 sf
price: starts at ~$150,000 for 4 modules (br, bath, kitchen, multi-purpose)
finish level: complete, inside and out, including light fixtures, utilities, and finish
(More coverage: Treehugger)
Exchange rate used: $A1.168 = US$1.00
RAL Homes is a company in Victoria, Australia producing home kits that resemble Quonset Huts. The RAL Home kits can be combined in a number of formations, and even added on to your existing home. The kits consist of a series of pre-framed panels which join together to form an arch.
"The components arrive on site, complete with hardware and including an illustrated Assembly Manual. Two workers with a basic knowledge of Carpentry skills and standard tools simply bolt panels together. The external Colorbond corrugated steel roofing and leaf-free guttering system make RAL Homes virtually maintenance free."
company: RAL Homes
style: like Quonset Hut
how: stud-framed panels bolted together to form arches
features: large open spaces, exterior metal cladding, large wood-framed window walls
finishes: corrugated metal cladding (exterior); interior your responsibility, but comes with rough sanded waterproof plywood
not included: exterior steps/rails, on-site labor, onsite mechanical systems, transportation
"Recipe for a good idea:Also worth checking out: the miniHome blog, miniHomage.
Combine all of the above into a package easily deliverable by truck anywhere in North America, that can set up on arrival in less than an hour."
size: 350 sf
bedrooms: sleeps 5
price: starts at $107,460 ($307/sf ++)
how: SIPs, steel frame undercarriage
finish level: complete, inside and out, including mechanical systems
features/finishes: adjustable roof canopy, commercial grade rubber flooring, stainless steel kitchen, fabric blinds, sleeping loft
available: Canada, U.S.
options/extras: wind turbine, solar panels, composting toilet, wood flooring, carpet tile, custom sofa, dressers, television
warranty: 1 year
I sent an email off to Jay Swoboda of EcoUrban in St. Louis asking about a discrepancy between the home listed for sale on their site and the standard specifications of the model. He says:
"The standard 1,600 square foot home has just 2 bedrooms. However, in our display home, we finished out 250 square feet in the basement and with a closet and egress, this can be considered a 3rd bedroom. Also, $279,900 is the price for our LEED-registered home at 3140 Pennsylvania (we will soon receive our Platinum designation) - we offer homes starting at $200k that are still LEED-silver certified...Another item that we are particularly proud of is our $100 per month utility bill (electric, gas, water and sewer), of which only $60 is gas & electric."
size: 1,600 sf
features: 8'/9' ceilings, Low-E windows, LEED Silver certified
upgraded display model:
name: 3140 Pennsylvania Ave.
size: 1,850 sf
features: 8'/9' ceilings, Low-E windows, LEED Platinum certified, $60/mo for gas & electric
WIRED and LivingHomes have collaborated on the green prefab dream home that "will serve as an example of how people can effectively balance green living with high technology and high design."
"Consistent with its focus on sustainable design, LivingHomes and WIRED are deconstructing rather than demolishing the property's existing house, reducing the amount of building materials sent to landfill. Working with The Reuse People, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to keeping usable building materials out of landfills, interior materials will be sent to the Habitat for Humanity Store for re-use, while the framing is being transported to Mexico where it will be used for low-income construction....Deconstruction is currently underway. Installation is slated for August 2007 and only takes one day."
Jetson Green is enthusiastic:
"At a price of $300 /sf, the WIRED LivingHome is going to be an incredible residence with the best in green + modern + technology. I can't wait to visit."
Treehugger calls it "a catalog of the best green eye candy that money can buy."
Future House Now adds:
"I tend to advocate smaller homes and affordability for regular families, but I'm not about to fire any criticism at the project, because it is meant to be a showcase house, and all showcase houses are top end....I think we'll see a lot of neat stuff come out of this project."
name: WIRED LivingHome by Ray Kappe
size: 4,057 sf
price: $4 million ($300/sf)
method: full modules
assembly on-site: 1 day
features: LEED certified, "tricked out" game room, 4 kW solar system
for sale: late 2007/early 2008
more info: press release (PDF)
"Affordable? Check. Cool? Check. Approved by the wife? Not so much, at least not yet. But Rocio Romero is on to something here with the LV series of prefab homes..."
Jetson Green's Flickr Friday introduced us to David Hertz's Panel House:
"This home is a three-story modern home in LA designed by David Hertz for Thomas Ennis. In the place of walls, Hertz's design called for industrial refrigerator panels--it keeps cool when it's warm outside and keeps warm when it's cool outside."
"It's a strange thing that in 15 years of building homes the house that Paul Melish is most proud of is one he didn't build at all..."
"The house is composed entirely of off-site fabricated elements and ready-made components, assembled from the platform up in less than six weeks....The aluminum scaffold system, coupled with an array of connectors, provide both the structural frame and the means to connect cartridges, blocks and equipment to that frame with only the aid of a wrench.Integration of utilities into the home's "smart cartridges" sets the Loblolly apart. The full-module builders, like Hive Modular, Marmol Radziner, and Alchemy Architects, integrate utilities into multi-room modules that are shipped to the site near-complete. But the companies delivering flat-packed products, like the LV Series homes from Rocio Romero, require on-site work to incorporate utilities and finishes. The SIPs or stud-framed panels they ship generally incorporate little more than structure and insulation.
The assembly process begins with off-site fabricated floor and ceiling panels, termed 'smart cartridges.' They distribute radiant heating, hot and cold water, waste water, ventilation, and electricity through the house. Fully integrated bathroom and mechanical room modules are lifted into position. Exterior wall panels containing structure, insulation, windows, interior finishes and the exterior wood rain screen complete the cladding."
For the Loblolly House, this complete prefabrication was necessary to avoid large amounts of work on the sensitive site. The process even works in reverse:
"Just as the components may be assembled at the site swiftly with a wrench, so may they be disassembled swiftly, and most importantly, whole....It is a vision in which our architecture, even as it is disassembled at some unknown moment, can be relocated and reassembled in new ways from reclaimed parts."
Complementing the designs of Ray Kappe and David Hertz, LivingHomes plans to sell homes based on the system used in the Loblolly House. Also worth noting: Bosch produces the structural frame used for the Loblolly House and the TK iT House.
name: Loblolly House
size: 2,200 sf
price: not yet for sale
method: flat-pak, with utilities incorporated into panels
(Hat tip: Philly.com)
I recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions about the new product line from Jenesys Building Systems. Here's what I learned:
Have you constructed any prefab structures?
Yes. Two. Our first was a small one-off cabin, the precursor to our current line of prefab buildings that we are developing. The second is the prototype of our E Cube line.
Are any models available for sale with timely delivery?
All the models on our website are currently available for sale. Time of delivery depends on the specific options and degree of customization that a customer opts for, but we do have a chain of supply in place and are ready to take orders.
You mention the prototype; do you have any photos, imagery or other documentation of the process/final prototype?
We have some information on this page: http://jenesysbuildings.ca/products-ecube.html
Our prototype E Cube is now at "lock up", structurally complete with doors and windows. [We anticipate] completion of the finishing of the building and landscaping this summer.
Standard features of the E Cube include:
Optional features include:
name: E Cube
size: 1,398sf - 2,244sf
price: $91,000 - $172,000
If your goal is to reduce the amount of on-site work to an absolute minimum, a houseboat delivers the ultimate in pre-fabricated housing. No earth movers or cement trucks required. Bonus points if the factory is on the water: the width of the flatbed truck no longer matters. Case in point: Modern Marine Homes in Sweden.
"Modern Marine Homes was established in 2002 from a vision of waterside living without compromising the demands expected from a modern villa. The result was [Villa Näckros], a new concept within marine living. A home with modern design characteristics and carefully considered construction."
Architecture firm Strindberg Arkitektur designed the original Villa Näckros, one of two models now available, and formed Modern Marine Homes to sell and produce the product:
"A residence for a client grew to an industrial project, with leading words as: sustainability, low maintenance, development of materials and building, care for the environment, low energy costs, identity....A comfortable living and a lay-out that gives you the optimal feeling of the closeness to the water."
Kalmar, Sweden has even developed a pilot program with Modern Marine Homes for living on the water:
"This unique work has led to the development of properties for living on the water — a floating residential project in the centre of town with the opportunity to leasehold or freehold [own]. The project will be a guide for the future design and construction of floating living in Sweden."
The house was awarded "Building of the Year 2003" by the Swiss Construction Industry. The homes are not available in the U.S.
name: Villa Näckros and Villa Näckros Alba
style: modern houseboat
size: ~1,200sf - 1,600sf
br: both models have 3 bedrooms
features: roof terrace and waterside terrace
We've reported on disaster relief housing before. Prefab methods are ideally suited for quick, cheap housing in far flung, resource-starved areas. An organization named CalEarth (California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture) has developed a method of home building that requires little more than the earth present at a homesite.
CalEarth's designs are based on a proprietary product called Superadobe Earthbags. The bags come in widths ranging from 12" to 26" and can be ordered up to a mile long. Combined with barbed-wire and earth from the site, the bags create super-strong structures:
"To build simple emergency and safe structures in our backyards, to give us maximum safety with minimum environmental impact, we must choose natural materials and, like nature itself, build with minimum materials to create maximum space, like a beehive or a sea shell. The strongest structures in nature which work in tune with gravity, friction, minimum exposure and maximum compression, are arches, domes and vault forms. And they can be easily learned and utilize the most available material on earth: Earth."
CalEarth has experimented with a number of designs and implementations using Superadobe, ranging from the Eco-Dome house, aka the "Moon Cocoon", to emergency shelters. Features of the Eco-Dome include:
(Hat tip: Inhabitat shared a bunch of photos and thoughts on the design last week.)
"The simple and sophisticated design allows it to exist easily in an urban setting, while the quiet strength and sturdy attitude are comfortable in a more rugged environment."
name: MetroCabin by MetroShed
where: Orlando, FL
cost: $29,500 to $34,950
construction type: pre-assembled conventional stud-framed panels
standard materials: wood doors and windows
options: window screens, wall finishes, door and trim color, exterior color, porch, electrical
Update: fixed the picture (thanks to a commenter for pointing out the mistake)
"Container City™ is an innovative and highly versatile system that provides stylish and affordable accommodation for a range of uses.Developer Urban Space Management installed the original Container City I in an amazingly short 4 days. Construction time start-to-finish came to an admirable 5 months. The project utilized 20 shipping containers to build 15 individual housing units.
The Container City™ system uses shipping containers linked together to provide high strength, prefabricated steel modules that can be combined to create a wide variety of building shapes and adapted to suit most planning or end user needs.
This modular technology enables construction times and cost to be reduced by up to half that of traditional building techniques while remaining significantly more environmentally friendly."
Brand Avenue covered the system a while back:
"I appreciate how they acknowledge temporality: implicit in their no-nonsense construction, and the light ways they touch the ground, is the idea that the site can and will be cleared someday, and something else will take their place. In this way, they interact rather respectfully with context..."
YouTube has a clip from the History Channel's Modern Marvels about the home:
LiveModern is a website for "anyone interested in modern and sustainable design for housing products and services." EcoSteel, aka EcoContempo, contributes content to the site. Especially worth a look is the construction blog by architect Greg La Vardera:
"Our blog is for tracking the development of new Modern House designs which are available at our catalog house plan site lamidesign.com/plans. We also cover the prefab house products we work on such as EcoContempo, EcoSteel, custom modular, and IBU container based housing."
The blog covers the variety of projects, detailing developments in the ongoing planning and construction of each. A recent post focused on a project in New Mexico, including photos of the site and renderings of the structures:
"The project consists of a trio of buildings - a residence, a garage/shop, and an observatory structure. Yes! That's right. More detail about that later. The three structures are located in proximity to each other at one corner of the site."
At the Vermont Plat House, interior finishes are going in:
"The owner moves in to the house in a matter of days. No doubt there will be more loose ends, but we will see it almost done very soon."An earlier post on the same house had some great exterior shots.
"The proposal was for a student housing village composed of a series of these [stacked] IBU structures. As the competition was being held in concert with a conference on green building, the student housing was proposed as a test bed for new sustainable energy and building systems. It was proposed that the units serve the Engineering school allowing for the students to live in and work at innovating and optimizing the new systems being designed at the school."
Glossary: IBU (Inter-modal Building Units) - Greg La Vardera's name for container housing
I've been reading more about Yurts, and I'm beginning to be won over.
The Yurt Foundation lays out the key advantages:
"The roof structure, with its compression ring and tension band, is an amazing architectural design requiring no internal support system, thereby leaving the yurt open and spacious inside....Want to look inside? Pacific Yurts, Inc. features a virtual tour. (Quicktime required: drag your mouse left or right to swivel the camera around in a circle. If you zoom in, you can also move up and down a bit.)
Yurts are special because they are portable. Central Asian nomads put their gers up in an hour or less. Modern canvas yurts can be set up in a day. To have a shelter that can be put up quickly and then taken down and moved as one's situation changes is a distinct advantage in our transient culture."
"It's a very tranquil place but at the same time it's a bit of an adventure - there's always something to slide out or under, pull down, tuck away, generally fiddle with, if only out of the need for space. To live here you have to be ordered: to do one thing, you have to finish another first and put it away. And that may be my and other compact-livers' downfall."
The Maison Tropicale sale made a couple more headlines. An AP story about the sale showed up on quite a few sites, like ABC Money UK:
"Its last owner, Eric Touchaleaume, a French antiques dealer, has said he plans to use the sale proceeds to finance a Prouve museum that will travel inside another Maison Tropicale."NY Arts Magazine explained the original use for the prefab homes:
"Prouve's aluminum and steel home was designed for French colonists living in Brazzaville, now the capital of the Republic of the Congo."
"It's been recently updated, and gives a lot of detail, the kind of detail you don't get from glossy magazine articles."
"They say it has no geographic limitations. So, we say set it up for semi-outdoor summer living anywhere."
AOL Money & Finance has posted a slide show highlighting a new book called Prefabulous. Author Sheri Koones explores a number of prefab building methods, from steel frames to large modules. The slideshow includes a variety of in-progress shots of large, custom-designed prefabs from:
The book was published in March 2007 by Taunton Press, which some describe as the "the leading publisher in the house and home category". In addition to magazines such as Fine Homebuilding and Fine Woodworking, they offer a whole series of books on home building and design.
Other coverage of Prefabulous around the blogosphere:
Elsewhere on the web:
One of the downsides of the modular building method is that modules are limited to a size that fits on a flatbed truck. Chris offers some perspective after a visit to the factory:
"When we were first looking around at the different prefab options, we had no real perspective on what 14' wide or 16' wide would be like for the whole length of a house - those are both obviously fine dimensions for a single room, but how does it feel to have a whole house fit into that width?...yesterday it was reassuring to actually stand in ours and feel how open and comfortable the space is..."
Chris answered some user comments and questions by listing some of the finish and fixtures they chose. Their goal: "modest and genuinely cost effective (and of course largely unspectacular)".
Another post compares photos of the actual modules in the factory and the renderings that Resolution 4 had provided to the homeowners in the design process.
Last Monday, Chris relayed a funny story about his Grandpa's take on modernist design.
"'I just love Prouve,' said tanned hotelier Andre Balazs who bought the house and said he hasn't decided what he will do with it. Of one thing was he certain: 'It belongs back in the tropics.'"
The article added details on the house's history:
"About eight years ago, Touchaleaume traveled to the Republic of the Congo and bought three prototype tropical houses that Prouve had shipped to the French colony. They were in dismal condition, rusting, inhabited by squatters and riddled with bullet holes from civil wars.
He sold one to American collector and former commodities trader Robert Rubin, who restored and donated his house to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. 'This price validates the other one,' said Rubin after the sale, speaking of the house he donated."
A blog called Nashville Modern Prefab covers the process of building a modern prefab by Hive Modular. The project is nearing the end of the design/approval stage; recent posts have dealt mainly with permit and zoning approvals and provide a good first-hand look at how some municipalities make building a unique home difficult.
A post back in December laid out the different approvals they would have to receive for the design:
"Metro Development and Housing Agency ....Metro Planning Commission ....The Metropolitan Historical Zoning Commission....The Nashville Civic Design Center...That post followed a meeting with the Historic Commission that expressed concerns over the home's modern design:
The upshot of all this seems to be that even with a house that meets zoning (MUN - Multi-Use Neighborhood) and fits the Neighborhood Design Plan for our lot (Neighborhood Urban) we will still need to jump through many hoops to satisfy all of these people just for the sake of making these petty bureaucrats feel powerful."
"Initial unofficial feedback from members of the Historic Commission and the Design Review Board mentioned major concerns with: 1 - The lack of a front-facing entrance. 2 - The lack of a front porch. 3 - The materials in general and the metal siding in particular. 4 - The flat roof."
A post in February provided a view of the home's final design. The following is the animated fly-by video of the home's exterior (1:09, no sound):
In April, the home received approval from the Design Review Board:
"...They asked a lot of questions and I answered a few of [them]. Luckily some of the people on the board were able to answer some of the questions for me just be looking at their copies of the plans. The only changes that they require to the design are on the windows for the North side of the house - a larger window in the front upstairs bedroom and one more small window near the base of the stairs. Could have been worse. They approved with conditions so we are ready to actually get started for real."
(Hat tip: Jetson Green covered the site last week)
Jetson Green discovered a unique combo of free internet technologies that helps you to display a home by MKD on your plot of land. Some of the applications involved, primarily Google SketchUp, require a bit of know-how.
Preston's post inspired a couple others. Materialicious explained why architects should love the "mash-up":
"What a great idea! Rather than bother the architect with endless queries like 'Can we change this?' or 'Can I have that?' or 'I don't like this, take it out', you can save time and money doing it yourself, tweaking the design (within certain limits, to be sure) and then presenting the desired customization to the architect. Makes sense to me."
Treehugger offers additional details:
"Google also offers Google Earth and mashed it and Sketchup so that you can put your Kaufmann design on your own property, play with the shadows and orientation, get comfortable with the plans and elevations before you even send her an email."
I don't know what it is with yurts right now, but apparently, they are "in". Two different companies building yurts came across my prefab feeds. Then, a day later, Core77, a design blog, covered a third company producing a prefab yurt product:
"The Mongols once had the largest contiguous empire in history, with their conquests covering 12 million square miles. While little is left of that legacy, their contribution to design remains in the form of yurts....The products vary from company to company; so, if you want a prefab yurt, at least you've got options.
Modern yurts now exist in the form of The Nomad, an eco-friendly yurt kit designed by Stephanie Smith and sold by Ecoshack. You can put one up yourself in about an hour, and you don't need to conquer anybody to call them home."
name: The Nomad
size: ~150 sf
br: "sleeps 3-4"
style: secondary dwelling
price: $4,879 - $15,597 (excludes finishes + options)
size: 113 sf - 805 sf
name: Oregon Yurtworks
price: $12,536 - $85,366 (excludes finishes)
size: 291 sf - 2836 sf
Back in February, the New York Times published "Think Small", a story all about small second homes:
"A wave of interest in such small dwellings — some to serve, like the Shepherds' home, as temporary housing, others to become space-saving dwellings of a more permanent nature — has prompted designers and manufacturers to offer building plans, kits and factory-built houses to the growing number of small-thinking second-home shoppers. Seldom measuring much more than 500 square feet, the buildings offer sharp contrasts to the rambling houses that are commonplace as second homes."
"For $90,000...Scott McGlasson...and his wife, Lisa...bought a 700-square-foot weeHouse....It has plumbing, tall glass doors, Andersen windows, laminate flooring, recessed lighting and Ikea cabinets. It is comfortable and attractive. 'But people confuse prefab with inexpensive,' Mr. McGlasson said. 'On a middle-class budget, this was doable, but not easy.' They bought the land — a small lot on Lake Pequaywan in northern Minnesota — in 2002 for $80,000. It already had a septic system, a well and access to utilities.There have been a number of blog posts about, or inspired by, the article since then. Trend Agitator added some commentary:
One rectangular module serves as the main floor; above it is an additional square module that serves as a second bedroom, which must be entered from outdoors via a ship's ladder. Guests love it because it's separate from the rest of the house. 'And because they can lock out our three kids,' Mr. McGlasson said."
"Luxurious small dwellings are the next wave. Defined as less than 700 sq ft, these dwellings are increasingly more aesthetic and available thru prefab manufacturers. As consumers rethink their priorities, these abbreviated structures motivate occupants to edit precisely and define themselves against the open space of the land rather than the footprint of the shelter."
Treehugger criticized the fact that most of the homes discussed in the article are used as second, or vacation, homes:
"Unfortunately, many of the homes profiled in the article are second or vacation homes, further stigmatizing the small footprint prefab as something that can only be used for a period of weeks, not the whole year."
Inhabitat shared similar thoughts:
"Some of those who have found themselves comfortable in these tiny houses have purchased them as second homes, which we find a bit ironic. The romantic notion of a large vacation plot of land, barely flecked with a 10' x 8' footprint is nice, but probably not exactly what Small House Society represents. Do you really get credit for adjusting your lifestyle for the sake of a small house — if you own two?"
Blogs were covering the article as late as last week. Alt^House, a blog covering "news and information on non-traditional home options", covered a guy who lives in a tiny house:
"Most of us think of a 500 square foot apartment as pretty darned small, but what would you say to living a house where the entire area measures only 96 square feet?"
A blog named DO Research showed up in a few places around the blogosphere. The blog is an "online note-to-self occasionally posted up on the internets for the unbuilt prefab home of Nicole Dotin and Eric Olson." They've been writing for a while; their coverage of the Aperture House, mentioned here last week, got attention. Treehugger enjoyed the photos:
"We love showing pictures of modern prefab, hoping that someday it will make good green design accessible and affordable. Nichole Dotin and Eric Olson plan to build a prefab and are clipping their own pictures of favourites. Where others might stick them in a file folder, they store them online as they move around the world from Minneapolis to Reading, UK."
I happened upon a blog that "tracks the building of our house, the first NextHouse by Empyrean." The house is almost complete, and this week, the authors discussed the last-minute craziness of the project:
"As move-in date draws nearer, all the things that need to be handled seem to be converging and conspiring to eat up all of our free time on weekends, and a bunch of time on weekdays as well."
Prefab Update discusses the efficiency of the 7.83 Hz House:
"It only requires two truck loads of materials to assemble, is built with sustainable materials, and is extremely energy efficient. The home is reconfigurable and low cost."
"I have never been certain what to make of Whitney Sander's Hybrid House...(A quick note based on our earlier coverage: every Hybrid House comes with a prefab structural steel frame; some incorporate prefab wall and roof panels.)
Most architects working in prefab are trying to create standard designs, to reduce the cost and risk to the client, and bring the services of talented architects to smaller houses. Sander thinks otherwise and says that 'What we love about the part prefab, all custom™ approach to prefab is that this will be YOUR house, designed exclusively for you...' He then follows an absolutely standard process of client engagement, design, design development and construction documents....
However I think it is a stretch to call it prefab."
Treehugger also showed off a new green home built with shipping containers:
"The R4House prototype consists of two bioclimatic homes (one of 150 m2 and a mini-flat of 30m2) made from materials that close the loop. The energy consumption of both is zero due to its bioclimatic design, the solar panels and the geothermal energy source. The waste production during construction is also zero. Both homes are modular and built from six recycled shipping containers; low-cost and allowing flexibility."
The University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Design runs a website/blog tracking their projects. They've been posting weekly on the construction of a new prefab in Kansas City. This week (week 19 of the project), they're nearing completion:
"Our goal was to be finished this week and have all of next week to tidy up and prepare for the open house on the 19th. With the exception of minute detail work, we have reached our goal. All of the siding is finished, the south deck is completed, and the ramp is being clad with Cumaru today. We can now finish our site work by bringing in sod in once high-trafficked areas to the south and between the house and garage."
On Wednesday the New York Times published an article about the classic prefab Maison Tropicale up for auction:
"Tomorrow, the Maison Tropicale, a small aluminum-paneled house built in 1951 by Jean Prouvé, a French designer and the current court favorite of well-heeled contemporary art and design collectors internationally, is being opened to the public for preview in Long Island City. Christie's, the auction house, will offer it for sale on June 5. The presale estimate is $4 million to $6 million."
"One of the most remarkable experiments in prefabrication was Jean Prouve's Tropical House, designed and built in France and airlifted in 1951 to be assembled in Brazzaville, now the middle of a war zone....Treehugger...learned from him that the process [of] assembly and dissassembly is hard on the house and its fittings, so this may be one of the very few chances to see this masterpiece. Prouve is under-appreciated, his work in building and furniture design is brilliant."
Tropolism tried to visit the house and reported back:
"The house...is located in Long Island City, on a plot just south of the Queensboro Bridge. Update: After running over there today, I can report that the dates the house is open are May 17-June 5, 2007. No hours were posted. It was locked at 11am today."Inhabitat covered the house today on Prefab Friday:
"The Maison is plug-and-play: there was never any plumbing, and it is wired for electricity. It ships in six containers. Christie's is compiling a short list of potential bidders with substantial properties in Mustique, Antigua, the Hamptons — name your playground — who might like a 59-foot-by-32-foot-by-16-foot-tall folly/outdoor sculpture/guesthouse/vintage metal toy to park on the lawn, with a designer label attached."
The Christie's auction lot shared some more details on the home:
The home's early use of factory-built parts jives with Jean Prouve's character, as discussed in this International Herald Tribune article from last year:
"Prouvé described himself proudly as a 'factory man,' while his friend, Le Corbusier, dubbed him an 'architect-engineer.'...'He considered the availability and economy of materials, he developed tooling for production, and he aimed to optimize efficiency, but this has been forgotten....The young Prouvé longed to become an engineer, but, as his family could not afford the training, at 15 he was apprenticed to a master blacksmith.
He studied under two of France's most gifted blacksmiths, Emile Robert and Szabo, both of whom produced 'art metalwork': wrought-iron grilles and doors in ornate floral shapes....Prouvé followed his father's design principles: 'Learn about the past; never plagiarize; always use the most up-to- date methods.'"
Now here's a website that's full of character: Kalkin Quik House. It's a useful site that already answers most of our usual interview questions.
The Quik House "is a prefabricated kit house designed by Adam Kalkin from recycled shipping containers." Most of the info provided on the site is matter-of-fact, but some of the Q and A is more fun. In response to the question "what colors does the Quik House come in?", the answer is: "Orange or natural "Rust Bloom". For an additional cost, we can have your Quik House tagged by local graffiti artists." Check out the site for more details.
price: ~$184,000 excluding shipping
shipping cost: $3,000 - $12,000
size: 2,000 square feet (1,000, 3,000 and 5,000 sf models also available)
how: recycled shipping containers
waiting list: 6 months
timeline: "no longer than 3 months"
Milwaukee firm Vetter Denk Architects designed the prefab Aperture House back in 2002, and it showed up in a couple blog posts this week. Architechnophilia posted an image. CubeMe posted the same image with some comments:
"Aperture House is a transparent jewel box, rigorously geometric and exquisitely scaled. Peer through the three-story glass curtain walls at either end of the 16-by-52-foot house and you can see the lake shimmering beyond. It is [a] sleek prefab vacation home on Moose Lake which won a top designing award and lots of interest from the public."
A blog named Seattle Prefab has been around since January, but it's just now showing up in blog search engines. "Seattle Prefab is run by two couples who are planning to build a mini-community of prefab homes in the Seattle area." This week, they discussed their construction schedule and the options they are considering for the driveway.
Modular home manufacturer Pac Van runs a blog and has posted a series on the "Evolution of modular buildings." This week, the blog discussed prefab's modest history and the flexibility of modular buildings:
"Architects and designers now create plans and configure modular space with the same freedom as for a bricks-and-mortar building. Today, a modular building might be a bullet-proof security kiosk, a two-story modular in-plant office, or an 11,500 sf sales center.Kisho Kurokawa's Capsule Tower got a little more attention this week from Core 77:
Gone, too, are the drab exteriors of the early years. Any exterior that stick-built construction uses, modular buildings can replicate."
"The good thing about cities is they re-invent themselves. The bad thing about cities is, they reinvent themselves.Jetson Green posted on the micro compact home we saw in Wired last week:
While world capitols like Paris and Rome are pretty careful with what they tear down, New York and Tokyo have always been less hesitant about replacing the old with the new."
"m-ch was designed to meet the growing demand for short-stay living. I think Horden's on to something. Right now, there's a horde of 7 m-chs that TUM students and staff occasionally stay in."
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday shows a prefab dwelling with a tiny footprint:
"I-RISE is a multi-story prefab residential unit designed to have the smallest possible footprint, both on the site and in an ecological sense. Its intention is to create a modular structure that is simple to build, yet flexible enough to accommodate the changing needs of its occupants."
After the original competition for the Dwell Home was received with so much enthusiasm, Dwell hosted another competition for the Dwell Home II:
"Sustainable building technologies are now part of the design guidelines for everyone from the federal government to private industry. To help push home design in the same direction, Dwell invited five of Los Angeles's top firms to create a sustainable single-family home in Los Angeles."
While the competition didn't require the home to be a prefab design, investigations into green building techniques led the winning architects, Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena, to choose a panelized concrete product, similar to a SIP:
"North Hollywood-based Green Sandwich Technologies. Green Sandwich manufactures what they describe as 'completely engineered structural concrete insulating panels (SCIPs).' The company goes on to state that their 'Green Sandwich Building System is the "greenest" structural building product available in the United States,' with every aspect of the system, from panel manufacturing to panel erection, engineered so the products generate the least amount of waste, fuel consumption, and environmental disruption."The panelized system is much less pre-fab than some of the modular methods out there, but some characteristics are worth noting:
• integrated utility chases
• can be built in approximately half the time of conventional stick-built construction
• an unlimited number of finishes and design configurations
• transfer about 66% less noise than wood-frame or steel-framed walls See the company's website for more detailed information on the system.
The competition took place in 2004; since then, the homeowners and Escher GuneWardena have been finalizing the design and construction methods as well as navigating the complicated permitting process:
"Deciding to build a home is usually just the beginning of a bureaucratic maze of city offices, inspectors, and paperwork. Due to the Dwell Home II's unique location, the land falls under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission, an agency established to 'protect public beach access, wetlands, wildlife on land and in the seas, water quality, scenic vistas, and coastal tourism.'"
Further articles about the house and its progress can be found on Dwell's site.
Michelle Kaufmann Designs has been one of the stars of the prefab movement since designing the Glidehouse for Sunset Magazine in 2004. The company emphasizes the greenness of its homes and has even built a green factory, mkConstructs, to produce prefab homes. I got some details from Rebecca Woelke, Director of Media Relations:
Do you have many built homes or homes under construction?
We have 15 completed homes, with 2 scheduled for completion by the end of June, and a multi-unit development (San Leandro) is expected to be completed this fall. We are working on 75+ projects, which include single-family residences and MK Communities.
What is mkConstructs?
mkConstructs is...key to our "prenewable" mission: a modern blending of prefabricated systems and renewable resources. mkConstructs is 100% committed to building thoughtful, sustainable designs.
Why did you open your own factory?
The addition of mkConstructs benefits our clients by further streamlining the construction process while providing more predictability of costs and timeframes for home construction. mkConstructs is located in the state of Washington, offering efficiencies with close proximity to many of our material sources and distribution centers. This factory will build homes for California, Washington, Oregon.
What do your homes cost? What does the price include?
In most areas, construction costs are between $200/sf and $275/sf for MKD pre-designed homes, and $275/sf - $400/sf for Custom Projects (all known costs included after permits are let). This does not include the cost of land. For more complex sites and for sites in high-cost areas such as the greater San Francisco area and Los Angeles, the total construction costs will most likely be higher. The actual project cost will depend on many factors unique to our clients MKD Home and building site.
There are both standard models and the custom option on your website. What have customers been most interested in? Do you have any numbers to show how many customers went custom vs. standard?
Of our current projects, 20% of them are custom. The balance of our current projects are pre-designed MKD Homes, which are to be built in various locations in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
What are some of the advantages of your prefab system?
Are there any common misconceptions about prefab that you'd like to comment on?
One common misconception I have noticed is how people define "prefab." Among the many classifications of prefabricated homes are modular homes, manufactured homes, and mobile homes. Each of these home types is very different. Although they are all built in a factory, they are built to different building codes, with modular construction at the highest construction/quality level. Many city and county zoning ordinances restrict the locating of manufactured/mobile homes to limited areas, whereas modular homes are more widely accepted. Michelle Kaufmann Designed homes are high-quality, high-performance homes that are built in a factory - not to be confused with "manufactured" or "mobile" homes!
(This interview has been edited for space; it's not an exact transcript.)
what: Home Tour
model: Hive Modular B-Line Medium
where: Minneapolis/St. Paul
when: April 28-29, 2007
See also: Our model page for the Hive Modular B-Line.
Empyrean designer Joel Turkel has provided his own take on modernist prefab for the Dwell Homes. All three sizes of the Empyrean NextHouse feature wood siding and large windows, with somewhat traditional layouts. According to Business Week:
Empyrean's home, dubbed NextHouse and designed by architect Joel Turkel, centers on a core-like space with a stretch of wall and window that extends through both levels of the house, so someone on the first floor can see up to the second. Despite the openness of the plan, private spaces are tucked into the opposite sides of the central living room. The master bedroom includes a roof deck.
name: The NextHouse 2500
additional square footage (decks, basement): 1,372sf
name: The NextHouse 3100
additional square footage (decks, basement): 2,070sf
name: The NextHouse 3150
additional square footage (decks, basement): 2,109sf
All models feature:
In addition to the new Dwell Homes line, Empyrean has more traditional options in their product line. Look for a post on those soon!
Lazor Office had been experimenting with prefabricated housing techniques for a year before the Dwell Homes competition. While the firm didn't participate in the competition, it was building a prototype of the FlatPak House at the same time. In an exhibit about prefab architecture at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the FlatPak project is explained:
"Charlie Lazor, principal of Minneapolis-based Lazor Office, began his exploration of prefabrication in 2002 through the creation of a home for his family. The resulting prototype — a two-story, three-bedroom, three-bath house with a separate study and guest room — was completed in 2004 and launched the FlatPak series. As the name suggests, the system evokes a do-it-yourself attitude by offering owners a wide range of choices and a hand in the layout of their spaces."
Lazor Office FlatPak also provides three designs for the Dwell Homes. Each sports a stucco/concrete look combined with wood and glass.
name: The FlatPak 3000
additional square footage (decks, basement): 566sf
bedrooms: 3 - 5
name: The FlatPak 1500
additional square footage (decks, basement): 610sf
bedrooms: 1 - 2
name: The Vacation House
additional square footage (decks, basement): 1,695sf
All models feature:
Articles and blog posts about the homes from Lazor Office: The Walker Art Center's catalogue of their "Some Assembly Required" show shares info on Lazor Office. CubeMe offers some pictures and hints on where to see a FlatPak house. Jetson Green shows off Flickr photos of the FlatPak Houses.
Resolution 4: Architecture won the original Dwell Home competition from a pool of 16 competitors. Joseph Tanney, a partner of the firm, commented on the winning entry in 2003:
"Modern Modular offers an option for a modern, affordable home that could aesthetically transform the American domestic landscape. The challenge that lies ahead is execution and implementation. We believe we have the strategy; now we need to execute it — and the Dwell Home offers the perfect opportunity to show that the system works. — from the Dwell Homes site.
Resolution 4: Architecture contributes three homes to the Dwell Homes line, including the winning Dwell Home. All of the designs feature wood siding and plenty of windows in modern, rectilinear designs.
name: The Dwell Home
additional square footage (decks, basement): 3,101sf
name: The Beach House
additional square footage (decks, basement): 1,356sf
name: The Suburban
additional square footage (decks, basement): 932sf
All models feature:
Articles and blog posts about the homes from Resolution 4: Architecture: MocoLoco shares some pictures of the winning entry. Treehugger spreads the news that the original Dwell Home was for sale back in 2005.
I previously mentioned Modern Shed and their prefab Studio Sheds. Since then, I've come across another domestic company offering similar products: Modern Cabana. I just ran across a UK company doing pretty much the same thing.
The goal of the Modern Sheds is "to be assembled quickly and with few tools. All models are packed flat with all the panels pre-built and finished." Their Studio Shed "comes with pre-insulated walls and roof panels" for purposes such as an office or art studio. They also have plans to sell larger Dwelling Sheds, ranging from 475sf to 1,260sf. These will feature the same construction and include bathrooms and kiitchens.
name: Modern Shed
where: Seattle, WA
size: 48sf - 120sf
cost: $4,995 (no frills Garden Shed base price) to $11,980 (120sf Studio Shed base price)
construction type: pre-assembled conventional stud-framed panels
standard materials: fiberglass doors, aluminum windows, metal roof, concrete siding, maple plywood
options: insulation($750), exterior color, door and trim color, floor color, sliding glass door ($500), deck($1,025 to $1,375), additional window ($550)
Each Modern Cabana similarly "comes pre-assembled so it can be deployed in a matter of days - without permits or slab foundation in most communities." Multiple units can be connected "to create expanded floor plans ranging from 100 to 1000+ square feet." Installation can be handled by the buyer, a contractor, or the Modern Cabana team.
name: Modern Cabana
where: San Francisco, CA
size: 100sf - 160sf
cost: $8,500 (100sf Cabana base price) to $14,500 (160sf Cabana base price)
construction type: pre-assembled conventional stud-framed panels
standard features: OSB floor and walls, aluminum sliding glass door, polycarbonate windows, membrane roof, cedar siding, electrical junction boxes
options: polycarbonate roof($2,500), insulation($250-$1,000), siding wood, interior maple siding($600), fiberglass french door($2,950), bamboo flooring($1,000)
UK-based Ecospace offers similar dwellings, at higher prices. They have four standard sizes ranging from 10' x 9' (~$35,000) to 22' x 9' (~$48,830). Their designs are also a little more interesting, but probably aren't worth the shipping across the ocean.
Rocio Romero was not present at CA Boom 4, but she and her team run a serious prefab operation. I spoke with Donna Rosanswank, Sales Manager, on the phone last week. 35 LV Series homes have been completed from the 100 LV Series kits sold since operations began in 2003. Many homes are built from more than one kit, and some projects have been delayed. Sales are doubling every year and they will expand into Canada by early next year.
The LV series includes:
materials shipped with the kit:
materials that are NOT included:
The home kits include so few finish materials because "Rocio wanted to be able to fit the whole kit in one flatbed delivery," and to allow customers flexibility in the final product.
where: Perryville, Missouri
size: 625sf - 1,435sf
bedrooms: 1 - 2
cost: $120/sf - $195/sf
fabrication time: 28 days, per contract
total construction timeline: 12 - 16 weeks
construction type: conventional stud framing
funding method: traditional lender
EcoContempo (a division of Northern Steel International) showed its steel-framed homes at CA Boom 3. I spoke with Chris Graham yesterday to find out why they didn't return.
Did you have a good response from CA Boom last year?
"We ended up with two clients from the show."
So, why didn't you return this year?
"We wanted to get to more specific markets to target architects and contractors. We put a lot of money and time into our website, that we've just launched. And we want to gear our marketing message to specific entities. More people are understanding the process, and we will probably be at CA Boom next year. We just have a limited budget at this point and we decided it was better not to attend this year."
What sort of marketing are you doing to architects and developers?
"We have a partner architect program; they are generally more interested in learning about the product. When [homeowners] come to us with a custom design, a lot of times, they are just pretty pictures and it doesn't take advantage of the efficiencies of our system. If we can get to the architect from the beginning, with our design, they can save on the design and build from the beginning. It's much more efficient."
Do you have many built homes or homes under construction?
"We have five homes completed to date, all around the country. And there are four homes under construction right now. Or rather, four in process: one is under construction, 2 are in engineering, and we have another one for which we are ordering materials; it will be under construction in six weeks."
You offer general models on your website, but it sounds like you offer custom models also?
"We lean more toward custom than standard models. We only have those designs because of Greg La Vardera, one of our partner architects. He understands our systems and can design fairly quickly for it. We aren't a design firm. If you came to me and said 'I want to do a 4,000 sf home,' I would direct you to an architect, like Greg. Currently we are building one modified standard model, completely converted and expanded. The other three projects are all custom."
What are some of the advantages of your prefab system?
"For people that are green conscious, we use about 70% recycled steel in our buildings. And it's a quicker build. We'll probably be able to finish a project in 9 months total, compared to 18 months for many site-built projects. And durability — it's steel. We have steel I-beams and steel insulated panels. And energy efficiency is number one. The original technology has been used for commercial refrigeration products for years, so you're not going to lose energy there. It is more energy efficient than a SIP product, and more structurally sound."
Are there any common misconceptions about prefab that you'd like to comment on?
"'Many people ask 'Is this cheaper than wood build?' We are trying to sell the quality and durability of our product. We aren't necessarily going to be cheaper and we generally don't come in under $200 or $250/sf, but we can."
You say you can — what do you mean? What comes in an EcoContempo package and how is there flexibility?
"The flexibility with our system is that the end user can decide exactly what interior finishes they want. They can take it as far as placing sheet rock on every wall and ceiling or choose minimalist features and keep a lot of the steel exposed. Your insulation value is secure once the panels are in place which allows, among other things, the option of painting the steel and using it as shelves. Our steel system includes your primary and secondary steel frame system, insulated wall and roof panels, windows, doors as well as sub-framing on the interior (i.e. metal studs with pre-punched electrical holes on each stud for ease of wiring, ready for drywall screws). Additionally, we provide all the structural engineering which includes stamped sets of drawings required to submit for necessary building permits."
(This interview has been edited for space and clarity; it's not an exact transcript.)
I spoke with Alan Koch yesterday about their aluminum and glass iT House:
Why didn't you return to CA Boom this year?
"It was a lot of work last year and we didn't feel like it was our audience. Our house is a little more fussy than some. It requires a big leap of faith to live in an all glass house. It's not cheaper faster; it's a lifestyle choice. [Our audience is] a very niche market. It's not the general population, not even people interested in modern homes. It's about getting in touch with something - themselves or the landscape. It's a tool for reaching a new state."
I noticed you removed all information about standard models from your website, what is the plan there?
"We're not sure about the models and are reevaluating currently. Because of the way we were trying to offer the building before, we weren't really sure what it was. There was something about the way that it was presented that implied anything was changeable - that someone could build a 5,000sf iT House. It doesn't translate to that scale."
You and your wife have a variety of work in your portfolio, why prefab?
"We explore all kinds of things, stumble upon interesting things and do something with them. It's not exciting to just talk about problems architects are interested in. Prefab is not totally in the realm of the architect. We like and are satisfied by the process of figuring out prefab."
What do you think is one advantage of prefab?
"All the story that's published right now is 'modern and cheaper.' It is cheaper in a way; none of our clients could afford the design time we've poured into the house. Everyone who does buy an iT House gets the benefit of the hours of design time...for a cheaper price."
I understand that you are building an iT House prototype in the California desert. How is that going?
"We are almost finished with the model, and have done a lot of the work ourselves. We can't do everything, like roofing. But we did things like the frame. It was very simple to put together: 4 guys, 1 day, no skills and we had no problem setting up the whole frame. If you show the drawings to a contractor, they get worried because it's not something they know, so they tend to overcharge."
To find out more about the iT House prototype, check out the iT House blog.
Sander Architect's Hybrid House is more philosophy than product. Coming to CA Boom 4 with what they call "part prefab, all custom™", Sander Architects designs custom homes using prefab techniques and products. Every Hybrid House comes with a prefab structural steel frame; some incorporate prefab wall and roof panels.
Catherine Hollis, wife of principal Whitney Sander, told me that Sander Architects thinks of architecture "as an artform." They use prefab elements to extend clients' budgets, but they see a rigid 100% prefab approach as limiting. Installation of finishes and fixtures takes place on site using traditional construction methods, and therefore with the traditional construction timeline.
Sander Architects has five Hybrid House homes under construction, ranging in size from 3,000 sf to a monstrous 8,000 sf home. Proving the benefits of their "part prefab, all custom" process, a 3,000sf home being built in Culver City, CA should come in at about $150/sf, much lower than some of the 100% prefab outfits at CA Boom.
price: from $150/sf
how: prefab steel frame, some other prefab elements
timeline: similar to site-built
Jennifer Siegal's Office of Mobile Design (OMD) comes to CA Boom with three distinct home lines.
The Portable House is a line of homes that can best be described as stylish, updated mobile homes. They are built in the factory and shipped complete (with wheels) to your site. Most models betray that fact, with fairly simple linear or stacked forms as a result.
The flexibility of the Swellhouse line lends itself to a more varied product. SIPs clad a "signature" S-shaped framing system. The Ecology Sun System (ECOSS) glass panels afford large expanses of uninterrupted glass. Like the portable house, swell houses are custom designed and no standard models are offered.
In the Take Home, OMD offers four standard configurations: 1, 2, 3, and 4 bedroom versions. The 1 bedroom is a single 14' x 60' linear module, with a roof sloping in toward the center. The 2,880 sf 4 bedroom is basically double width and double height, coming to 24' x 60'. All models cost about $240/sf and are shipped complete to your site.
One gripe: good luck finding the above information on their website. It's all done in Flash -- with no HTML version and it barely works. Sometimes a click leads somewhere, sometimes not. Details are nearly impossible to find, e.g. 36 lines of text that must be viewed 6 lines at a time.
price: $200,000 - $691,200
size: 840sf - 2,880sf for the standard models
br: 1 - 4 bedrooms
how: complete modules or SIP
The sprawling prefab prototype that Marmol Radziner built in the California desert shows the design potential of modernist prefab. It is the sexy rock star of the modernist prefab movement and has been getting its share of attention.
That prototype provided the basis for the five models they offer on their website. A simple 1 bedroom, 660 sf model costs $212k, while a 2,650 sf model with 3 bedrooms runs $781k. All models feature floor-to-ceiling windows, a tube steel structure, SIP walls, flat roofs, and wood or metal siding.
Houses are constructed at Marmol Radziner's factory in Vernon, California. Work completed at the factory includes electrical and mechanical systems, cabinets, and all finishes. Standard amenities include Sub-Zero and Bosch appliances, Hansgrohe and Kohler plumbing fixtures, teak or walnut cabinets, and CaesarStone countertops. One would be hard-pressed to find higher quality fixtures in a prefab house.
The models boast several green features: solar panels, tankless water heaters, ample overhangs on windows, and a recycled steel structure. Check out their website to see a full list of amenities and visit their configurator to see how different options affect the price.
The expanses of glass in the desert prototype show that these models do well in open spaces. However, the long list of custom prefabs that are currently in process shows that Marmol Radziner is up for tackling any site.
price: $212,000 - $781,000
size: 660sf - 2,650sf for the standard models
br: 1 - 3 bedrooms
how: complete modules delivered to site
If you like the idea of prefab, but can't forfeit the luxuries of a large private home, a LivingHome is probably for you. Along with Marmol Radziner, LivingHomes represents the top-of-the-line prefab present at CA Boom 4. Most standard models cost more than $500k, and some approach $1m.
Rather than using in-house designers, LivingHomes offers models from Ray Kappe and David Hertz, two well-known California architects.
Kappe has two offerings in the LivingHomes product line: the five bedroom, 3,100sf RK1, and the four bedroom, 2,500 sf RK2. Both feature extensive outdoor decks of over 1,000sf, multiple levels and open floorplans. Hertz has one LivingHome design, a 2,650 sf, four bedroom, also with ample outdoor living spaces and a modern floorplan.
LivingHomes is building a community of their homes in Joshua Tree, CA, with plans for additional communities in the future. Or you can work with LivingHomes and one of their architects to build the prefab home of your dreams.
All of the LivingHomes designs are green-conscious; the standard models have gained LEED certification. Construction timelines run between 46 and 54 weeks from project conception to move-in. It's a bit of a long wait, but when your house does finally arrive on site, it comes together in a hurry (video: model home installed in 8 hours)!
size: 2,500sf - 3,100sf for the standard models
br: 4 - 5 bedrooms
how: complete modules delivered to site
timeline: 46 - 54 weeks from project conception to move-in
The custom clamping technique of the MHS (modular housing system) reduces site construction time to a few days. The lightweight aluminum can be assembled without heavy equipment, is resistant to rust and termites, and never needs to be painted.
Exterior cladding is offered in Zinculume (corrugated metal panels) or Ipe wood, both of which are weather resistant and durable. Interior surfaces come un-finished, requiring you and your local contractor to handle flooring and wall coverings, and all cabinetry, lighting, and other fixtures.
kitHAUS offers four standard modules, as well as 5 example configurations on their website. The standard building blocks are 17' square. K1 features a loft; K2 has a flat roof. The K3 module is smaller, at 9' x 13', and the K9 module (an actual offering) is a 4' x 4' home for your dog. The configuration examples range from 512 sf to 768 sf, but it is possible to combine more modules to create a dwelling (or doghouse) of any size.
The kitHAUS system offers a flexibility that is unmatched by any other home at the CA Boom show. The lightweight framing system and ease of assembly allow the kitHAUS to go places other prefab can't. For instance, if your homesite is on an island, or up some windy mountains roads, the kitHAUS can make the journey.
price: $3,500 - $59,000 for standard modules
size: 16sf - 768sf for the standard configurations
how: patented MHS framing system
timeline: delivery in 6 - 12 weeks, finishes applied post-delivery
Energy-efficiency and the environment are topics that are mentioned often by the prefab companies at CA Boom. The features of the H-Haus models don't take these topics lightly. H-Haus describes its services as "home design for a smart energy future."
The H-Haus line consists of 8 standard models, varying in size from a 612sf standalone guest house module, to a 2,100sf home, with garage, terrace, and two bedroom "suites." The models range in overall appearance, from the modern Cube 5 to the traditional/modern hybrid of the Cube 8. LIsted prices are in the $200k - $300k range. Most of the models feature colorful stucco finishes; other exterior finish options include metal siding, Hardiplank®, and Cultured Stone®. Several amenities are worth a mention: a standard 10'-0" height entry door, operable skylights, soaking bathtubs, gas fireplaces, and trellises for outdoors terrace areas, to name a few.
All models strive to combine a well-designed product with eco-friendly features. For example, the standard for Cube walls is an 8" pre-engineered system (compared to a 4" - 6" standard thickness in most homes), allowing for a great r-value (in the range of R-30 to R-50). Other features: energy-efficient windows, solar heating, rainwater catchment and wastewater recycling.
While such inclusions aren't revolutionary, or unique to H-Haus, the H-Haus folks do make a notable effort to incorporate green materials and products into their homes. To stress these features, while also trying to meet a certain aesthetic, IS a challenge. If you are seeking a low-impact prefab product, you should certainly look in the direction of H-Haus.
style: modern or modern/traditional hybrid
price: $200,000 - $300,000 for standard models
size: 612sf - 2,100sf for the standard models
br: 1 - 3 bedrooms
Hive Modular offers a unique contribution to the prefab movement. Unlike most of their counterparts at this year's CA Boom show, they offer many of their designs in both modern and traditional garb. This approach allows them to optimize a floorplan and offer it in a few different exterior looks.
They offer a B-Line (linear), a C-Line (square), an M-Line (multi-family), and an X-Line (custom). All models are built from a series of modules. They are brought together in different ways (side-by-side, end-to-end, stacked, criss-crossed) to create slightly more complex forms. And smaller modules, called "saddlebags" can be added.
Size options range from the B-Line Small at around 1,000sf to the B-Line Large at around 2,500sf. Prices range from $140/sf to $215/sf and $4,000 and up for the delivery and crane-setting process.
The modules are all shipped near-complete to site, with only a few final touches necessary by the local contractor. All models feature steel and/or cement siding, which appear to come in your choice of colors. They offer a list of high-end and custom lighting and plumbing fixtures, but stick with Ikea cabinets like most of the prefab outfits.
Without "saddlebags", the forms are fairly plain, but window placements help the homes appear a little more dynamic, and break away from the boxiness a bit. Some of the implementations are more immediately pleasing to the eye than others, especially the smaller configurations where the simple shapes make a little more sense.
style: modern or somewhat traditional
price: $140,000 - $550,000 for standard models
size: 990sf - 2500sf for the standard models
br: 1 - 3 bedrooms
how: complete modules shipped to site, placed with crane
The next player at the CA Boom 4 show will be CleverHomes. Their design and process is in contrast to the simplicty afforded by the weeHouse. As a result, more is possible with a CleverHome.
CleverHomes details 8 unique models on their website, along with 7 custom case-studies to show how their system can be tweaked and customized. The sizes run the gamut, from a 480sf one-room wood-sided shack, to a large 3,500+ sf modern estate. Styles range from ultra modern to log-cabin chic. All are rectilinear, and most feature flat roofs.
The design process includes a custom design for your lot and setting, satisfying the unique structural and site constraints of any project.
In contrast to the factory-built, fully finished, units that you get with a product like the weeHouse, CleverHomes are shipped to the site in unfinished pieces. Exterior wall sections, called SIPs, industry shorthand for "structural insulated panels", are shipped to the site and are erected by your choice of contractor, with oversight from the CleverHomes folks.
Finishes and fixtures are shipped separately, but "are delivered ready for on-site assembly". Construction schedules are stated to run in the "4-6 month" range. CleverHomes touts this somewhat-prefab process, saying that they "stop short of pre-fabricating large assemblies" when the factory process becomes limiting architecturally, or if the cost of moving a large prefab module would be too high.
CleverHomes is taking advantage of the prefab process in a way that most likely will become more common in the coming years. They are taking advantage of the quality control and cost-savings of the factory and a few pre-engineered schemes, while still allowing for a near-custom home as a product.
style: modern or traditional
price: prices not provided
size: 480 - 3,500 sf
br: 1 - 4 bedrooms
how: SIP construction
timeline: construction stated as ranging from 4-6 months
With just a small number of configuration and appearance options, and a fabrication process that includes all finishes, you really are getting a 'prefab' home. It might not be that custom home you've been thinking about since first grade, but a first grader could probably handle the ordering of this puppy.
The weeHouse features studio, one and two bedroom options, with the ability to customize and build a much larger home. The standard options range in price from $70,000 for a 300sf studio to $110,000 for a 650sf two bedroom. These prices don't include bringing the utility hookups to the site or the home's foundation; homeowners and their contractor are responsible for this on-site work. Standard finish and fixture options include Ikea cabinetry and fixtures, and, for a price, the more high-end Duravit sinks, toilets, and tubs.
The 12' modules are built in the factory and trucked to your (future) doorstep. Hire a crane (at ~$250/hr - $500/hr) to position the structure on your foundation, hook up the utilities and you are ready to go! It doesn't get much easier than that. This method is one that other prefabs really should aspire to.
Alchemy Architects offer a number of custom options too, ranging from the ability to design "not too wee" houses or even to site-build a weeHouse.
price: $69,500 - $109,500 for standard models
size: 300sf - 700sf for the standard models
br: studio - 2 bedrooms
how: complete modules shipped to site, placed with crane
timeline: construction stated as 4-12 weeks