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Author Topic: Seven Cutting-edge Modular Buildings  (Read 6004 times)

Jay Sadie

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Seven Cutting-edge Modular Buildings
« on: October 20, 2011, 02:18:25 AM »

"Modular" doesn't mean "Trailer" anymore.

Forget what you've heard about prefab buildings. Below are seven factory-made structures -- from sheds to houses -- that are stylish & easy on the environment too.

[float=right][smg id=161 caption="Perrinepod"][/float]Perrinepod

Custom-built prefabricated homes, such as the modernist Perrinepod, encourage the idea that houses should be nothing more or less than their inhabitants need. By using less space and materials, prefab homes, sheds, cabanas and other buildings preserve natural resources while leaving the smallest of footprints. They are usually manufactured in a way that leaves a smaller ecological footprint than conventional on-site construction.

“Imagine a home that can be built in a few days, that will suit any landscape and adapt to virtually any architectural style. Picture a design so sophisticated and fabulous that it seems futuristic, yet so simple and uncomplicated that you wonder why no one has thought of it before. Perrinepod embodies design innovation and beauty in form. And, in a time when people are struggling to keep up with the look of "now",the Perrinepod will prove to be a design that will remain classically beautiful in its simplicity for generations.”   Ingrid Jacobsen - The Sunday Times

[float=right][smg id=162 caption="Micro Shed"][/float]M Finity Micro Shed

Hoping to "keep the world beautiful now and for generations to come," M Finity takes an eco approach to all of its unique modular products. In all of its houses, cabanas and sheds, M Finity employs sustainable, recycled, low-energy materials and fixtures to create functional, space-efficient design.

A great place for extra storage, a work area or garden shed – who says utility must be ugly?

We all need a place for our stuff; a place to get away and get our hands dirty. The microSHED® is an ideal place for fixing that wobbly chair passed on to you from your grandmother or storing it away until the holidays. It also serves as a great place to repot your favorite ficus or merely hang up your muddy gardening tools. With a work horse interior and a show horse exterior, the microSHED® does it all.

[float=right][smg id=163 caption="Vail Grant House"][/float]Vail Grant House

The eye-catching, quirky Vail Grant House from Pugh + Scarpa Architects is constructed from prefabricated structural concrete insulating panels made by Green Sandwich Technologies. All panels are 60% recycled material, including wire mesh made from recycled auto parts and fly ash, a byproduct of coal burning.

The design of the Vail House was generated by the integration of two disparate forces: the mundane requirements of the regulations imposed by zoning codes, economic constraints and the technical challenge of building on a steep hillside, and on the other hand the careful attention to the very specific condition of the site itself and to its surroundings. This made the architecture of the project a unique expression of the generic and the specific.

The property is located in Silverlake adjacent to a Neutra house. An architectonically rich neighborhood in Los Angeles emblematic for the city’s Modern movement, Silverlake represents a typical residential area in Los Angeles, overlaying a densely knit urban fabric with a layer of private outdoor spaces.

[float=right][smg id=164 caption="Vail Grant Interior"][/float]Vail Grant House interior

The Vail Grant House contains several elements that maximize energy performance. Solar panels produce enough energy to power the entire house. Air conditioning is supplied naturally by pipes that draw cool air from the hillside. In colder weather, large windows allow the sun to heat interior concrete slabs, creating natural convection currents.

An 18’ high entrance hall divides the building into its private and public domains and demarks its upper and lower part. From here, the building slopes down to the private realm – the children’s room and the master bedroom, where the continuous, warping space ends in a window that takes up the entire section of the volume. The bathroom, steps up in the other direction, is completely dug into the hill and is lit by a skylight in the patio above. On the other side of the entrance hall, the stair leads up to the kitchen and dining room. A long window towards the hill allows air to circulate through the building from a low window in the living area and provides the necessary cross ventilation. A built-in stand-alone wooden box contains the guest bathroom and defines the transition between the kitchen and the living zone.

[float=right][smg id=165 caption="Micro Cabana"][/float]M Finity Micro Cabana

The M Finity Micro Cabana is prefabricated with a working bathroom. The diminutive space is perfect for use as a pool house or backyard guest room.

Tired of having water tracked through your home from the backyard to the bathroom? Need a place for your kids to change and shower before jumping into the pool? The microCABANA® is here to the rescue. It comes standard with a private bathroom, as well as a selection of interior options and porch styles to choose from. The microCABANA® is also perfect as a private guesthouse for those surprise sleepovers.

[float=right][smg id=166 caption="The Holy Cross Project"][/float]The Holy Cross Project prefab home

With increased energy efficiency, "green" building can provide truly affordable housing, lowering energy bills by 40%. After the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, architects Andrew Kotchen and Matthew Berman of Workshop/apd designed this sustainable model for New Orleans' devastated Ninth Ward.

When finished, the entire project will have four more homes and a 18-unit apartment complex — all of it low-income and green, too. Global Green is shooting for LEED Platinum on everything and expects homes to use 75% less energy than a similar, typical building.

Homes range in price from $120k – $150k and cost about $150k – $175k to build. With all the energy and water efficiencies, residents should recognize annual savings of $1200 – $2400 in utility bills.

Global Green partnered with domino magazine to decorate and furnish this first model home. Domino contributor Ruthie Sommers and style director Dara Caponigro used green materials throughout to decorate and furnish the place. They also incorporated some original, local artwork.

[float=right][smg id=167 caption="First LivingHome"][/float]First LivingHome

Designed by architect Ray Kappe and installed in just eight hours, the First LivingHome was recently certified LEED Platinum by the United States Green Building Council. It is the first home in the nation to achieve this ultragreen distinction.

LivingHomes strives to create homes that are as healthy as possible and that have minimal ecological footprint. To guide them, they developed a set of design goals for each LivingHome that they call Z6: Zero Water, Zero Energy, Zero Waste, Zero Emissions, Zero Carbon, and Zero Ignorance.

To measure these goals, LivingHomes certifies all its homes using the USGBC's LEED Program. LivingHomes commits to only building at least LEED Silver level homes.

Aren't "prefab" homes supposed to be less expensive than other homes?

Prefabricated homes define a broad range of products and styles. In general, "prefab" means that some or all of a house is factory built and assembled. As a group, prefab homes include everything from mobile homes to log cabins, panelized houses to custom-designed architectural showpieces. In addition to homes, prefabrication has been used to create office and industrial buildings, banks, and schools.

Prefab production is used for several reasons:

  • Better quality. By code, modular homes have to be built to a higher quality level than stick-built homes because they must endure stresses of being transported (wind shear, vibration, etc.)
  • Faster construction, less cost. When you can start building your home at the same time as your foundation is being developed, you save time and money. Typically, a stick-built, custom home will take 12 to 18 months. LivingHomes can complete homes in 5-6 months. Additionally, the prefab process can be 20-40% less than a similarly equipped and constructed, stick-built home.
  • Less waste. 30-40% of the material used to construct a typical stick-built home ends up in landfills versus 2-8%, on average, for prefab.

[float=right][smg id=168 caption="Desert House prototype"][/float]Desert House prototype

Los Angeles architecture firm Marmol Radziner has recently launched a line of innovative modular prefabs that are making waves. The Desert House prototype employs four house modules and six deck modules, a quantity chosen to suit the wide desert landscape.

Marmol Radziner and Associates, headed up by the photogenic and personable duo of Ron Radziner and Leo Marmol, has become the name in Los Angeles for painstaking adaptive restorations of mid-century-modern classics, and for contemporary new homes in the modern tradition. They are the architecture equivalent of the couture fashion designer who knows how to sew. Rare among architects, Marmol Radziner construct most of their residential designs, often on picturesque but difficult sites, to a high level of detail and quality—and they charge a premium.

“We had to prove to ourselves that we could build a prefab house and so we embarked on an experiment for ourselves and on ourselves,” says Marmol. The firm built the prototypical Desert House as a vacation home for Marmol, his wife, Alisa Becket, and their daughter, Emilia, born shortly after the completion of the house. The house is located atop a sparse hill in Desert Hot Springs, a resort and retirement community near Palm  Springs known for its soft spa waters and its seasonal harsh winds.

[float=right][smg id=169 caption="Desert House interior"][/float]Desert House prototype interior

Marmol Radziner's Desert House prototype uses solar power to supply energy, while the thermal mass of the home's concrete floor is great for retaining heat. The steel frame is recyclable.

Marmol Radziner Prefab’s original goal was not just to reduce costs for their brand of custom homes, but to standardize them so clients know in advance how much they will pay. They offer five standard models, ranging from one to three bedrooms. But so far every one of their prefab clients, who range in age and location, could have afforded custom, but chose prefab for reasons other than the budget.

“The sustainability aspect” is one, says Marmol, citing details like solar electric-generation panels, efficient triple glazing in the windows, and sustainable materials including recycled structural steel, low-VOC paint, triple-pane low-e argon-filled insulating glass, and an on-demand tankless water heater. Then, of course, there’s the aesthetic appeal, and the reduced construction time.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2011, 03:48:08 AM by Jay Sadie »
"I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success." - Nikola Tesla
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