I think it was about 7 years ago when I picked up a book by Joe Eichler called Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream. I remember being awestruck by these incredible mid-century moderns that he had built in California. What was so incredible was the fact that he had designed these homes to suit the American middle class. In other words, he was creating “affordable modern housing.” It is true that the Eichler subdivisions were “tract” housing built to sell to a middle-class market. However, that does not diminish the fact that Eichler homes were designed by world-class architects and were a bold, unique experiment designed to bring modern style to the mass housing market. I know you’re wondering, “What in the world does Eichler have to do with prefab housing, and where is he going with all of this?” Ok, here’s my point, what we are witnessing right now with the increasingly popular modern prefab housing boom reminds me of what Eichler was doing in the 50’s. Modern designs crafted by architects, pre-built in a controlled environment in an effort to bring affordable contemporary housing to the middle class. In 2001, Dwell magazine took the prefab ball and ran with it by devoting an entire issue to the subject. In 2003, they announced the Dwell Home Design Invitational, in which 16 architects and designers were invited to design an innovative prefabricated house for $200,000. The result was an amazing home that captured the attention of not only thousands of readers but also struck a note with hundreds of young, eager architects who believe that there is a huge market for this type of housing. In 2005, bound by a collective commitment to building well-designed, affordable modern homes, Dwell teamed up with Empyrean International LLC (formerly Deck House), Resolution: 4 Architecture, and Lazor Office to create The Dwell Homes(TM) by Empyrean — an exclusive collection of custom-designed, modern prefabricated homes. Today, there are dozens of companies with prefab making up part or all of their building revenue. The 3 pictures above are from a few of my personal favorites:(left to right) weeHouse from Twin Cities firm Alchemy Architects, Sunset Breeze House from Michelle Kaufmann Designs and The Mountain Retreat by Resoluton:4 Architecture.click here for a website that is all about PreFab.

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