Plant Prefab, a Southern California-based construction company specializing in prefabricated residential design, completed the first accessory dwelling unit (ADU) designed by its in-house design studio. Named LivingHome 10, the ADU was first unveiled during this year’s Modernism Week in downtown Palm Springs and was shown to the tens of thousands of visitors that attended the 10-day event. LivingHome 10 was unveiled a year after Plant Prefab commissioned industrial designer Yves Béhar to design the LivingHome YB1, a fully-customizable ADU. While the lowest asking price for YB1 was over $296,000 when it was first debuted, LivingHome 10 is nearly half the price at $154,000. With a mere 496 square feet of interior living space, the modestly-sized ADU tucks storage away using built-in furniture with concealed handles that make them imperceptible upon first glance. The self-contained living space includes a full-sized kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom large enough for a queen-sized bed, and a living room that spills out into an optional deck via a multi-slide glass entry. Smart home technology features are embedded throughout the home, including Sense Energy Monitoring, Lutron Smart Dimmers, and a voice-controlled smart home system from Amazon that will become a standard feature in every subsequent LivingHome model. “Following our investment in Plant Prefab last year," said David Jackson, director of Smart Home at Amazon, “we are delighted to continue collaborating with Plant Prefab to deliver convenient smart home experiences in every LivingHome. From the day they move in, homeowners can rely on Alexa to help make daily household tasks more convenient, offer peace of mind while at home or away, and more.” LivingHome 10 is among the first produced by the Plant Prefab to employ its Plant Building System (PBS), a patented method for prefabricating residences using a combination of modular units and a panelized construction system known as ‘Plant Panels.’ These panels are designed to be assembled like building blocks and include electrical, plumbing and finish materials along with framing and insulation. According to the company, the PBS system provides greater design flexibility than previous prefabrication systems, but can also lower overall costs while reducing building time and construction waste. And unlike traditional modular construction, which limits transportation and installation options by assembling the entire home offsite, the PBS system transports living spaces separate from plumbing and mechanical cores to allow ADUS to be delivered and assembled in more restrictive spaces.
Posts tagged with "Prefab Homes":
Muji, the famed Japanese retailer of “no-brand” home goods—and over the last 15 years, entire small homes—has released its fourth, and latest, prefabricated abode in Japan. Dubbed Yō no le (Plain House), the dwelling is a noted departure from the retailer’s previous venture into prefab housing, a slim and decidedly stair-intensive abode geared for impossibly tight urban lots named Tate no le (Vertical House) launched in 2010. While Yō no le is predictably compact and ultra-unfussy in keeping with Muji’s pared-down aesthetic, it’s the first prefab home offering from the company to be entirely stair-free and geared more toward rural environs than cramped Japanese cities where there’s not much room to go aside from up. Sporting 800 square feet of interior living space with a generously sized deck with room for container gardening out back, Yō no le’s flexible single-floor, single-bedroom layout is geared to appeal to homeowners who want to settle down and stay put in the same space for the long haul. A particular target market is seniors and empty nesters looking to live a more minimalist—and low-maintenance—lifestyle. Boasting clean lines, light wood, and loads of natural light, the highly customizable home (Muji also makes pretty much everything under the sun one would want to customize the home with) was described by the company as being designed to “accommodate wide range of generations and provide more choices for places to live, thus supporting a variety of lifestyles.” Although Muji has a healthy retail presence across the globe including over a dozen stateside stores mainly in New York and California, Yō no le, like the company’s other prefab homes, is only available for sale in Japan at an affordable $160,000. Of course, Muji isn’t the only purveyor of home furnishings to delve into the production of simply designed and assembled homes catering specifically to baby boomers and beyond. In 2019, IKEA announced a partnership with Swedish construction behemoth Skanska to erect a series of modular homes in the Stockholm suburbs for elderly inhabitants living with dementia.
Autodesk is making a bet on the future of prefabrication for disaster housing with an investment in FactoryOS and the company’s California-based “Rapid Response Factory.” In addition to allowing the startup to begin experimenting with constructing post-natural disaster homes on the factory floor, the funding will reportedly allow the Bay Area startup to create a Factory Floor Learning Center that will focus on housing policy in partnership with UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. FactoryOS founder Rick Holiday explained to Fast Company that after several major natural disasters in California, like the recent forest fires, he received requests to build disaster housing; however, the company was not equipped to meet that demand, nor to build the smaller homes required. Thanks to the investment from Autodesk, Holiday told Fast Company that FactoryOS is “going to explore if [they] can create a standardized unit that could be used for supportive housing, or could be stitched together to create a small-to-medium to a larger-sized building after a natural disaster quickly.” FactoryOS has been able to streamline homebuilding through vertically integrating the construction process and creating a factory floor that can be used in all weather by union labor while easily integrating digital design and manufacturing. They claim that this precision has allowed them to reduce waste over traditional construction by as much as 40 percent, and costs by over 30 percent. The company believes that prefabrication could be a major answer during this time of national housing crises, when productivity in construction is not only stagnating but decreasing. At the moment, FactoryOS reports that they can create four-to-six apartment units in a day, however, with their continued growth and the addition of the Rapid Response Factory, they are hoping to bring that number up to as many as 16 units in 2021. According to Fast Company, this new deal will also require intensive data collection and tracking of social impact metrics, as well as environmental impact and cost. FactoryOS, which previously received an investment from Alphabet, has also just received an influx of cash from a Citigroup-funded incubator focused on affordable housing, according to The Verge's weekly newsletter.
New housing is coming to Times Square, at least temporarily. The Virginia Tech team of students and faculty behind the FutureHAUS, which won the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, a competition supported by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and U.S. Department of Energy, will bring a new iteration of its solar-powered home to New York for New York Design Week in collaboration with New York City–based architects DXA Studio. The first Dubai iteration was a 900-square-foot prefab home, that, in addition to being entirely solar powered, featured 67 “futuristic devices,” centered around a few core areas including, according to the team’s website: “entertainment, energy management, aging-in-place, and accessibility.” This included everything from gait recognition for unique user identities and taps that put out precise amounts of water given by voice control to tables with integrated displays and AV-outfitted adjustable rooms. One of the home’s biggest innovations, however, is its cartridge system, developed over the past 20 years by Virginia Tech professor Joe Wheeler. The home comprises a number of prefabricated blocks or "cartridges"—a series of program cartridges includes the kitchen and the living room, and a series of service cartridges contained wet mechanical space and a solar power system. The spine cartridge integrates all these various parts and provides the “central nervous system” to the high-tech house. These all form walls or central mechanical elements that then serve as the central structure the home is built around, sort of like high-tech LEGO blocks. The inspiration behind the cartridges came from the high-efficiency industrial manufacturing and assembly line techniques of the automotive and aerospace industries and leveraged the latest in digital fabrication, CNC routing, robotics, and 3D printing all managed and operated through BIM software. Once the cartridges have been fabricated, assembly is fast. In New York it will take just three days to be packed, shipped, and constructed, “a testament to how successful this system of fabrication and construction is,” said Jordan Rogove, a partner DXA Studio, who is helping realize the New York version of the home. The FutureHAUS team claims that this fast construction leads to a higher-quality final product and ends up reducing cost overall. The cartridge system also came in handy when building in New York with its notoriously complicated permitting process and limited space. “In Dubai an eight-ton crane was used to assemble the cartridges,” explained Rogove. “But to use a crane in Times Square requires a lengthy permit process and approval from the MTA directly below. Thankfully the cartridge system is so versatile that the team has devised a way to assemble without the crane and production it would've entailed.” There have obviously been some alterations to the FutureHAUS in New York. For example, while in Dubai there were screen walls and a courtyard with olive trees and yucca, the Times Square house will be totally open and easy to see, decorated with plants native to the area. The FutureHAUS will be up in Times Square for a week and a half during New York’s design week, May 10 through May 22.
Yves Béhar, the storied tech entrepreneur and founder of San Francisco–based design firm Fuseproject, is set to release a new model for a fully-customizable prefabricated housing unit aimed at alleviating California’s housing crisis. According to designboom, his latest design venture, a collaboration with Los Angeles–based LivingHomes and their Plant Prefab studio, will revolutionize small living for low-density cities. Launching tomorrow, the LivingHomes YB1 model was designed as a response to the state’s recent decision to loosen restrictions on building accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Over the past year, homeowner applications for backyard homes have rapidly increased due to the new law. Béhar and his team have developed a ready-made house that can be bought at a reduced price and built on-site in under two months. Per the firm’s website, YB1 homes will range in size from 250 to 1,250 square feet and are easily customizable according to the client’s goals. Each home is built on a 4-foot grid allowing homeowners to reconfigure structural elements such as the roofline, the size and location of its windows, as well as the layout of the interior and the cladding material. The appliances, HVAC system, and all utilities will come pre-installed. Individual models can also be specified to fit the location and climate where they’re built; clients can select sustainable products and integrate smart home capabilities into their units to save energy. Right now, YB1 costs $280,000 total and takes 6-8 weeks to order, plan, and fully install. Béhar plans to launch a future line of “sub-$100,000 homes” through LivingHomes. Fuseproject describes the project as Behár’s attempt to “think systematically about buildings, rather than as a one-size fits all solution.” LivingHome YB1 is Béhar’s first project involving housing and arguably the largest-in-scale that he’s ever backed. While he's served as a staple of Silicon Valley, has garnered major commissions, and helped pave the way for tech giants today, Béhar’s projects haven’t always been universally well-received recently and his latest products have been faulted for their lack of usefulness. The designer's recent ventures include highly-criticized and controversial products like Edyn, a digital garden sensor, Juicero, a $700 juicing machine, as well as Samsung’s Frame TV, which displays digital art for a hefty price tag. With YB1, Behar stands to make a difference in the housing market.
A new exhibition at Architektur Galerie Berlin SATELLIT details the Polish firm BBGK Architekci and their recently completed Sprzeczna 4 apartment building in Warsaw, Poland. Manifesto of Prefabrication, on view through Saturday, September 29, explains why this multifamily complex is an innovative prototype for modular housing in the country. Most housing estates built in Poland during the communist period feature large-panel concrete in prefabricated designs. This typology is ubiquitous throughout the country, especially in the capital city of Warsaw, and it has a poor reputation for being ugly, impersonal, and unsustainable. BBGK constructed Sprzeczna 4 in protest against this conception and to show that prefabrication is a valuable construction method for 21st-century housing. The complex utilizes low-cost technology, prefabricated elements, and heated ceiling systems to achieve a cohesive, contextually appropriate design. Ample light infuses the apartments through large windows framed by exposed colored concrete. Sprzeczna 4 not only flips stereotypes about traditional modular construction in Poland, but it also sheds light on past improper building practices. Historically these buildings were built by poorly paid immigrants through a semi-feudal system, but BBGK implemented fair business practices and social responsibility to create this contemporary twist on conventional Polish housing. According to the curator, Marcin Szczelina, the project is a proposal for a new way of using the prefabrication method not only in Poland, but in Europe and beyond. Manifesto of Prefabrication can be seen this week only at the Architektur Galerie Berlin SATELLIT. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Minimalist masters Muji are offering up the chance for a two-year stay in their new, fully-furnished "Window House" for free. Located in Kamakura, roughly 31 miles south of Tokyo, the house—in keeping with its name—features windows on all four sides. In the living room, large windows facilitate expansive views onto the garden. A skylight allows further light in from above. With its typical minimalist white interior and open floor plan, this light is reflected throughout the space. Small eaves attached to the top of these windows reduce solar gain in the summer, stopping excess heating. The Window House is the largest from Muji so far. Last year they unveiled the Vertical House as well as an assortment of much smaller residences. Applicants who want a free stay in the house don't have to be Japanese, though will have to be able to read and speak it. This due to the fact that Muji is eager to collect feedback on the house and the experiences of its long-term inhabitants. During this process, the residents will report back regularly to Muji's designers and research team. As an added bonus, once the two-year stint is over the former residents will receive Muji furniture for life. Applications are currently open and close at the end of the month. You can sign up here.
Danish design studio Vipp recently debuted a fully-furnished, prefabricated shelter touted as a “plug and play getaway” and “all-inclusive nature retreat.” This ready-to-use, minimalist cabin is just 592 square feet and is designed to reunite man with nature by integrating into its surroundings with a steel facade and predominantly dark tones that defer to the surrounding scenery. The bare-bones structure is comprised of 0.08 inch sheet metal mounted on a steel grid. Meanwhile, the ground-level living area resembles a glass display case with its enormous bay windows that flood the kitchen and dining area with natural light. Amenities such as electric-heated magnesite floors, a glass-encased fireplace, and remote-controlled skylights hardly befit a so-called “shelter”, but the term is applied to emphasize the no-frills, functional design where the focus is on the off-the-grid travel experience wherever you may choose to pitch your high-tech, $585,000 tent. “The starting point of the Vipp shelter is going back to basics; back to nature with function functions…” chief designer Morten Bo Jensen writes on Vipp’s official website. A longtime manufacturer of kitchen and bath modules, Vipp has stocked its shelter with own-brand products—and no stone is left unturned. The kitchen is even equipped with 12 drinking glasses and a cutlery set (and yes, a trivet for serving hot dishes)—and don’t worry about packing a towel or a toilet brush. The fashion-conscious bathroom features a floating vanity made from powder-coated stainless steel, a reflective stainless steel ceiling from which to admire your reflection and black, powder-coated ridge walls. The bed loft area is accessible via ladder, and the luxe shelter as a whole sleeps up to four people, with a daybed on the ground floor spacious enough for two. “It is neither a house nor a mobile home. Rather, it is a spacious, functional and livable industrial object,” the company claims on its website. Delivery time for a Vipp shelter verges on six months, with an installation period of 3–5 days. “To get your own getaway shouldn’t require lifting any fingers—except the one pointing to where you want it,” Jensen wrote, conveniently forgetting the disclaimer that a building permit is still required.
Known for being economical in terms of space and sticker price, prefabricated homes are also boasting increasingly abbreviated build times. One modest-sized dwelling in Castlemaine, Australia took a mere 10 days to construct and garnered an esteemed sustainability marque from PassivHaus to boot. One of the world’s fastest-growing energy performance standards, ‘Passive House’ accreditation is doled out solely to homes operating on 90 percent less energy than traditional homes. For consideration, three eco-friendly parameters are paramount: thermal performance, airtightness, and ventilation. The most efficient homes use the sun, internal heat sources, and heat recovery for insulation, avoiding the need for energy-guzzling radiators even in the icy throes of winter. At just 419 square feet, the Passive House in Castlemaine, Australia (the first in the country to receive this certification) comprises a wooden frame with wool and fiber insulation and a facade clad in steel to confer a modern look. Further insulation comes from the triple-glazed windows and specially engineered seals protecting the windows and floors, which is made from an air-tight membrane called Intello. Keeping the interior snug and toasty year-round is an energy recovery system which, contrary to ordinary logic, funnels air into the house, heating it in the winter and cooling it in the summer at low running cost while also keeping moisture out. The system also tamps down heat transfer, giving the exterior of the house a u-value (heat transfer coefficient) of 0.261 watts per square meter. The lower a home’s u-value, the better its insulation. As a result, annual heating, electricity and hot water demands for the Castlemaine Passivhaus are a mere 11 kilowatt hours per square foot. Designed by Australian architectural firm CARBONlite, which specializes in prefab homes, the various sections of the Castlemaine dwelling were built off-site over a 5-day period. Once assembled on site, the exterior was erected and the building made wind and watertight that same day. The house has a mono pitch roof with an overhang to provide shade and minimize overheating during Australia’s scorching summers.
In an effort to reduce the cost of housing even further, this prefabricated home proposal ditches the cost of a traditional lot entirely. The houseby UK-based Carl Turner Architects doesn't need one—it floats. Essentially a rubber-coated timber box nestled on a 65-foot-by-22-foot flood-proofing concrete tray, the home is outfitted with amenities for total self-sustenance just like a houseboat on open waters. Affixed to the interior is a pair of semi-translucent solar panels measuring 904 square feet, while a rooftop rainwater-harvesting tank—next to the crow’s nest on the rooftop balcony-cum-garden, of course—satisfies all non-drinkable water needs. Inside, meanwhile, the timber walls are bolstered with thick rubber insulation, while the triple-glazed windows keep inhabitants toasty. Space-wise, there is nothing makeshift about this home. The living quarters, contained within a 45-foot-by-16-foot cross-laminated timber frame, consist of two bedrooms, a study, a bathroom, living room, and kitchen. While the tray beneath the house is buoyant (though non-movable), the house is designed to be amphibian: when constructed on land, the base disappears; when assembled on a floodplain, it can be buttressed by stilts or a non-floating, flood-resistant thick concrete base. Like the prefab, the component parts of Floating House can be conveyed to the site by lorry or barge and simply lifted into position. Designed to confront a recent uptick in flood incidents in London, Carl Turner Architects debuted Floating House via the open-source architecture project, PaperHouse. The firm has promised to upload the blueprints to the site, enabling anyone to download them and build their own buoyant home.