Pre(tty) Fab(ulous) Modular Houses

Eco-friendly prefab homes have enjoyed a grassy place in the sun (as in green) for the past decade. Here’s what’s on the horizon. Our vote: pretty fabulous. 

The prefab process (building modulated prefabricated homes offsite in an industrial facility), is simple and deceptively cheap. Deceptively so because the term is so often associated with McMansions, suburban Taj Mahals built on the cheap with massive mortgages attached. Nowadays, prefab is equated with the new eco chic, a modernist aesthetic and sustainable design.

The prefabs of the future are all about smart design, responsible sourcing, affordability and, above all else, style. We venture to say that these pretty fabulous prefabs actually fit the bill. Here’s why:

A prefab is built with recycled and renewable materials. Bamboo is the most common, while a sturdy base of steel, wood and cement can withstand even the most arctic of conditions. If it’s a really fab prefab, it mixes natural light with passive heating and cooling. This prefab from Seattle-based Stillwater Dwellings also features  low-VOC paints, micro-strip birch hardwoods, Marmoleum floors, wool carpeting, recycled-content quartz slab countertops, ultra-high efficiency heating and hot water systems, and high-efficiency windows with argon and low-E film.

If it’s pretty fabulous, it uses interior spaces wisely and is designed with longevity in mind. Danish studio Onen and Swedish company Add-A-Room co-designed this rustic cottage/additional living space called the One+ house. When the future calls for more space, simply add another module.

A pretty prefab must feature large windows and multi-use functional spaces. The Week’nder by Lazor Office was installed via a ferry trip across Lake Superior. They had us at the front window.

A fabulous prefab is non-invasive, meaning it doesn’t infringe on the natural world. On the contrary, it blends into it like the FlatPak house.

Really fabulous are prefabs built with economic stability in mind. Mass customization means they are an ideal solution for low-income communities and in places that are prone to natural disaster. The FLOAT House from the Make It Right Foundation is scalable, adaptable and mass-produced. It’s an affordable, sustainable prefab that generates its own power, collects its own water and limits resource consumption.

Making Pitt fairly fab, too.

As architects continue to heed the call of clean design and aesthetic simplicity, the prefab will continue have a home with eco-conscious homeowners. We like it.

Image: jenosale

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.