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04.25.2011
Rad Prefab in Santa Monica
Marmol Radziner reimagines the trailer park.
Courtesy Marmol Radziner

LA-based Marmol Radziner Prefab, a firm lauded for elevating prefabricated housing to the realm of high design, is bringing their modular design approach to one of the oldest and most neglected forms of prefab housing: the mobile home, specifically those at the Mountain View Mobile Home Park in Santa Monica.

In 2009, the city of Santa Monica, which owns 20 low-income units out of the 72 homes at Mountain View, decided to update their aging facilities, commissioning new, modernized homes to replace the 20 trailers. The improvements were initiated to “demonstrate current technology and improve lives,” and to achieve the same quality as the city’s other affordable housing offerings, according to Jim Kemper, housing administrator with the city.

 

Marmol Radziner teamed with the manufacturer Golden West Homes and was chosen through a process involving residents, city officials, and a review board.

“It was a great exercise in applying our experience to a project with really challenging cost constraints,” said Ron Radziner, a design principal at Marmol Radziner. Many of the firm’s high-end prefab homes have cost more than five times the price of these homes.

Each mobile unit occupies between 400 and 1,000 square feet and looks less like a traditional trailer and more like a bungalow. Multiple windows ensure that interiors are bright with daylight, but light exterior colors help keep the homes naturally cool.

 
[+ Click to enlarge.]
 

In addition to these passive energy efficiency features, the homes are constructed with formaldehyde-free wood products, walls are painted with zero-VOC paint, and floors are covered with Marmoleum, a natural linseed linoleum. The homes are also equipped with renewable energy sources such as a 2kW solar photovoltaic array that sends energy back to the grid and a solar-heated hot water system.

Additional green features are available for purchase, such as porches with awnings, trellis screens for exterior walls, and a multifunction “Green Box” storage cabinet equipped with a rain barrel, a compost bin, and a small kitchen garden planter.

Installation of the homes began in late February and move-in began early this month. Residents of Mountain View who do not qualify for the city-owned units can purchase their own versions of the new mobile homes at a reduced price directly from the manufacturer.

Anya Ravitz