modern prefab housing, cabins and studios

Gropius decided to create prefab homes as well after he became concerned about the housing shortage in Germany after the end of WWI. His homes were styled in a similar design to Art-Deco and were very modern. Gropius’ prefabricated homes inspired the design style of prefab houses for many years along with the entire architecture world. With this ensemble of buildings, Gropius aimed, using industrially prefabricated and simple “building block” construction elements, to put the principles of efficient construction into practice – both in relation to the architecture and the building process itself.

In the 1930’s and 40’s Marcel Breuer added his expertise to the market starting with this low-cost, easily transportable structure supported by cantilevers resting on two short piers. This building was in fact never built, but is well documented as a pioneer in prefabricated housing types because of its ability to be mass produced with all the benefits this entailed in terms of cost improved quality, and above all, given post-war demand, rapid production….
The “plas-2-point” design was not the most aesthetically pleasing, but it was eminently practical. It owed this practicality to the fact that it was demountable, meaning one unit could be picked up and moved to another foundation with minimal effort, and conceived as an assembly line product that could easily be mass produced and shipped all over the country.

Fast forward to today and modern prefab housing is continually on the rise due to ever increasing building and materials cost. Add to that the constant rising cost of lots and land and one can easily see the benefits to consider. Modular prefabricated housing systems that optimizes many elements of the traditional design-build process.  Building in a factory setting allows for increased accuracy, building envelope tightness, less waste material, time efficiencies and numerous other factors that make modular construction both economical and ecologically sound. Here in the Twin Cities, we are home to 3 modern prefab companies that offer incredible dwellings at much lower price per square feet cost. The home at left was built in Minneapolis and was designed by Hive Modular. They have 3 different lines of modular homes to choose from based on the type of lot you will be building on. B-Lines are for narrow urban infill sites. C-Lines are elegant designs for wider suburban lots. X-Lines are custom designs based on unique sites and clients.

Alchemy Architects is another local prefab design company that built its reputation around the weeHouse which is seen at right. Alchemy maintains a distinct hands-on approach to architecture and design combines a playful design process, collaborative relationships with clients, and partnerships with builders and fabricators, to create a harmonious blend of site, building, and community.  With sustainable practices as a mainstay of their daily work, Alchemy utilizes recycling and reuse along with building strategies  that reduce waste.  The Alchemy multidisciplinary team draws inspiration from art, literature, history, and leading creative thinkers to create alternative and atypical project solutions.  Alchemy’s innovation on the weeHouse prefab system and “tightwad panache” renovations has gained recognition on an international scale.

If you’re looking for something on a smaller scale, say a prefab cabin of sorts. Check out WheelHaus based out of Wilson, WY. They have 8 different models to choose from with most averaging around 400 sq. ft. of livings space with the exception of the Hitch Haus which comes in at 1560 sq. ft. My favorite is the Mod Haus which features a sliding side door entrance, ultra sleek exterior paneling and architectural look like no other. Each cabin features one bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen/living room and a private deck. The bedrooms are sized to fit a queen or king size bed with two side tables and linen lamp style sconces. Track lighting is available for properly lighting artwork. Pretty cool space for only $89,500.

Need to go even smaller yet? How about an extra room/studio/office that can be thrown up in your back yard. Check out Studio Shed. A backyard shed is no longer simply an afterthought, or a place to hide unwanted belongings. Today backyard sheds can be found with finished interiors fully wired for power and Internet and made with sustainable materials and production techniques.
People are discovering that these single-room structures work beautifully as home offices, art or recording studios, storage spaces, guest rooms and much more. Studio Shed is pioneering the most efficient and affordable ways to deliver these refined products to clients from coast to coast.

The structure at right is a 10 x 12 foot room that would be ideal for a guest room or for additional living space at a cabin (which is what I’m considering). The website allows you to design and build online and get pricing. You get to choose where the windows go, different size windows and doors, the siding and layouts, and colors. This room bills out for around $14,000 with the deck.


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