Ecological zone in Norway brings together experimental prefab and sustainable architectural designs

Experimental and sustainable projects
Kindergarten in a car shop

District in Trondheim concentrates young architects, students and artists who build their own homes and buildings.

On one of those days of blue sky and intense cold, typical of late winter in Norway, I walked a short distance in a district in the center of Trondheim. The area where 240 people live is somewhat peculiar and is different from the rest of the country. In the kindergarten built in a car shop, I found two sheep eating grass and I saw, through the large glass windows, a group of children snacking on round tables. In the district there are also art installations, graffiti, prefab sustainable homes built by the residents themselves and a sense of community and belonging. I'm in Svartlamon, an experimental ecological zone - unique in urban planning in Norway.

Modular Prefab Annex to Weekend House by SOA

Architect: SOA Soler Orozco Arquitectos
Project: Casa Molina
Location: Morelos, México
Year: 2015
Photos: Cesar Béjar

Given the homeowner´s need to minimize all on-site work and construction time to as low as possible for this modular prefab annex to weekend house, prefabricated structure was considered as the best cost-effective and sustainable option. The modular prefab annex includes two bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a large terrace for common use.

Prefab modules has an important constraint in their design, the dimensions of prefab elements could not exceed maximum dimensions for truck transportation. Architects planned prefab modules measuring up to 2.4 m by 7.2 m, the standard maximum size of a freight truck platform commonly used for building materials delivery, which also perfectly optimized the use of construction elements and metal sections for the frame and structure. The entire prefab module was put together in the controlled environment of remote workshop, with internal plumbing, electrical installations, light roofing, as well as preliminary ceiling, wall, and floor finishes in the bathroom spaces. 

On site, the ground work had been done and the concrete foundations had been prepared to receive the modular prefab annex. Once there, the prefab modules were assembled and installed, windows and doors put in place, bathroom accessories, lighting, and fixtures installed, and exterior natural stone was applied, before the final finishes and details were attended to.

Mirrored Glass Prefabricated Cabins in Maldonado, Uruguay

Installation Video
About architects

Project: Sacromonte Landscape Hotel
Area: 60 sqm
Architecture: MAPA
Location: Maldonado, Uruguay
Photography: Leonardo Finotti
Year: 2017-2018

Sliced logs and mirrored glass form the facade surfaces of these prefabricated cabins designed by architects from MAPA, which are located in a beautiful vineyard in Uruguay.

The mirrored glass prefabricated cabins stand on the Sacromonte vineyard with an area of 101-hectare. The vineyard is set within a picturescue valley of dense green grassland crossed by water streams.

Local land owner wanted a hotel that "combined architecture, productive land, hospitality, and landscape", which MAPA with offices in Brazil and Uruguay, helped to create.

The Sacromonte Landscape Hotel comprises 13 prefabricated cabins placed at various locations throughout the valley so that guests can see and enjoy unique and beautiful perspectives and views of the verdant surroundings.

Each steel-frame prefab cabin was assembled in a 10 weeks in Montevideo and after the off-site construction being complete the units were transported 200 kilometres to Maldonado.

"Prefabrication process appears as an ideal solution if you want to achieve high levels of comfort in remote areas", architect Sebastian Lambert told.

MAPA has completed several prefabrication projects. The architects placed a pair of prefab guesthouses in Brazil, on a historic coffee plantation, and has designed a prefab dwelling in an olive grove in Uruguay.

While the prefab cabin's front facade has been crafted from modern material, mirrored glass, its rear elevation is built from stacked wood logs meant to emulate and reflect the appearance of classic woodpiles typically found in local rural settings. The natural stone bases that used for support of the prefab cabins are erected on building site, shaped to perfectly suit each individual cabin's features of specific plot of land.

Cabins roofs have also been covered with appropriate to the landscape camouflaging greenery, and outer peripheral walls feature slatted custom timber sliding screens.

Internally the 60-square-metre prefab cabins completed with a fireplace, cosy reading nook, and a living area with windows that face directly onto the surrounding landscape. The valley will also have a wine tasting hilltop terrace, a restaurant, and a pitched, open-air chapel.

Description from architects:


Sacromonte is an invitation to meet with the remote nature and the world of fine wines, where sophistication and originality coexist in a new landscape experience.

Its lands of more than 100 hectares (250 acres) are located in a privileged location: the wild mountains of eastern Uruguay. Equidistant from Punta del Este, Jose Ignacio and Pueblo Garzon, it forms a unique ecosystem of enjoyment, of which it is part with its own spirit.


Sacromonte is a landscape. It is a field of relational forces, of old intensities and new impulses that coexist in a new unprecedented entity.

Thus, nature, production, infrastructures, buildings and energy constitute a field of stimuli to discover, a field of experiences.


It is a field of forces inter-related between veloces intensities and nova impulses that constitute a unit of precedent.

In this landscape young vineyards interact that adapt to the characteristics of their soils, a hill from which to understand the landscape, green areas of meadow, two reserves of natural water and several streams that run through the valleys surrounded by dense native vegetation. The contemporary explorer is in charge of traversing them and drawing his own script through various scenarios of which he is co-protagonist next to the landscape.


The rooms of Sacromonte are born in a factory in the metropolitan area of Montevideo. It is a fast process, less than 10 weeks, to be transported

more than 200km in a single day. When leaving the city behind, the rooms stop being, to become refuges of landscape, stop being objects to become experiences.

In its modular metal structure, which combines steel framing and light steel framing, the simplicity of construction and the efficient use of materials are paramount. Their endings are simple and forceful, the materials are used according to their nature.

In contrast, the walls received by the prefab modules are simultaneously built in place with local stones that take on various organic shapes and are adapted to enable each implantation. They are complete with circular pools that integrate a new sensory experience of the landscape.

The spaces are organized in a sequence of longitudinal layers of different thicknesses between which life develops. The back facade is composed of a stack of wooden trunks that recalls the stacks of firewood typical of life in nature.

The next layer houses the wet areas of bathroom and kitchen, a wood stove and a deep hole ideal for reading a book or a nap sheltered in the landscape. Separated by a wooden plan, it follows the main bedroom, living and dining room, which opens completely to the landscape it faces, being part of it.

The frontal facade is made up of a mirrored glass that covers the prefab cabin with an almost magical effect, positioning it in a tense boundary: between the camouflage and nature and the unreal brilliance of today's technology.

Hotel Revier - Simple and Luxury Modular Hotel in Switzerland

Architects Carlos Martinez Architekten
Location Lenzerheide, 7078 Vaz/Obervaz, Switzerland
Year 2017
Area 4100 m2
Photography Hannes Thalmann, Marc Lins, Revier Mountain Lodge

Construction Process

Trend-oriented, authentic and natural. When a sports hotel is reduced to the essentials, a feeling of freedom in the face of life and an unconventional architectural concept arise. The long, narrow building perches on the edge of the steep terrain with the mountain forest in the background. The two slightly angled elements of the building follow the shore of the Heidsee.

The front of the building with lobby, bar and restaurant is in a cozy way aligned to the entrance of the Rothornbahn and forms the common center of the hotel. Around four more floors with a total of 96 rooms are compatible with this massive ground floor floor, where the winter sports hall and the large bicycle room are located.

The modular hotel combines the atmosphere of a mountain lodge with the liberating feel of a motorhome and the functionality of a ship's cabin. All rooms are oriented to the west, towards the water and remind of the picture of a VW bus: A park at the lake opens the tailgate and feels a sense of freedom. A large wall-to-wall bed and a room-high panoramic window with ventilation wings reinforce this impression. The rooms are optimized to only 15 square meters. The ceilings, floors and walls are built in modules of unfinished natural plywood: columns, partitions and interior fittings, all in one.

The arrangement of the rooms next to each other creates a double wall effect, which also ensures better sound insulation. The bathroom is installed in a multifunctional box. The fully equipped room modules were prefabricated, allowing for precise execution and rapid design and assembly.

Modern technology and design without influencing come together here, of course. This is obvious both inside and out. The metal façade of the foundation with a vertical design surface, the abstractly arranged window slots and the glazing from the floor to the ceiling testify to thriftiness. On the façade of the four floors of the rooms, the individual modules are highlighted by the protruding metal cladding, and the building is clearly a wooden structure with vertical larch strips, untreated.

The special feature of this luxury modular hotel are its individual rooms, which are inspired by the image of a VW bus. A large wall-to-wall bed, a floor-to-ceiling picture window with narrow air vents and a deep sill and a compact, box-shaped bathroom add to this space. Countless well thought-out details make the rooms special. The heating element in a corner to dry the clothes. The bed can be used as a sofa for watching TV and relaxing and an automatic folding device simplifies this transformation.

The standard rooms, each the width of a bed, are optimized to only 15 square meters. There are also 4 rooms without barriers and 28 rooms with three beds. Each cabin is designed as a room module made of spruce planks, which form the columns, the room dividers and the interior in one. The effect of a double wall is achieved by placing the rooms next to each other, which also ensures better sound insulation. The prefabricated modules are suitable for this design and offer the decisive advantage of high-quality workmanship as well as construction and assembly on site.

Modular Home with Self-Driving Room: Honda IeMobi


In Tokyo Motor Show 2017 Honda showcased a "Self-Driving Room" called Honda IeMobi Concept. The six wheels room-type minivan, whose name is coined from the Japanese word ie (house) and "mobility", has a 5 sq. m. area and can be attached to a modular house for use as a living room.

Description from Honda:

For the near-future society where everything is connected digitally, Honda will provide a modes of warm, face-to-face “connection.” The Honda IeMobi Concept connects to the home seamlessly, connecting electricity and entertainment information from car to home, and home to car. When parked, IeMobi becomes a “room” with around 5 m2 of living space. By using IeMobi matching the user’s lifestyle, such as a guest room to invite friends, or a mobile pantry for weekend shopping, new possibilities in mobility and lifestyle are born.

Honda IeMobi is a concept module of the smart modular house, but one which you can hop into and drive off in at your leisure.

5 Hours Install Time Prefab House - CasaMONTAÑA, Spain

Manufacturing Process
Architect Contact

Architect [baragaño]
Project CasaMONTAÑA
Area 100 m2
Location Asturias, Spain
Year 2016
Manufacturing Time 4 month
Install Time 5 hours
Photos Verónica Carreño, Mariela Apollonio

[From b. Lat. Focāris, adj. Der. Of focus, fire]
Place where the fire is made. House. Group of people living together.

"The house is the coat."
- Álvaro Siza

"The house is a dwelling machine."
- Le Corbusier

English clients, in love with Asturias, decide that their second home will be industrialized. Produced during four months in a factory in Madrid and transferred to its final location at 600 km, crossing the Cantabrian mountain range, where it will assemble in only 5 hours. Finally, the black slate roof is placed by a craftsman of the zone. Technology and tradition in the days of Brexit.

The project is developed in two levels, with a simple program that groups the installations in one of the three modules of 2.15 x 5.30 m that conform it. The metal staircase is the central element of the dwelling, around which the program runs and which dialogues with the chimney suspended from the living room. The upper floor contains the two rooms, separated by a light polycarbonate wall that sifts the light.

A prefab home for an English landscaper and his family, actively developed with clients, involved in the project from the very begining outset, showing absolute respect for the rural environment where it is located. A wonderful complex formed by an "hórreo" and a traditional dwelling, in process of rehabilitation is tourist accommodation, that still keep alive the project.

New ways of conceiving housing, a high quality product, that tries to approach to the automotive and aeronautics industry, that allows a future growth of the building offers a way of using the space in a much more dynamic, versatile and rational way.

Prefab Modular System

The fact of produce our prefab homes in a factory and transporte them to the site completely finished, apart from get more control over the quality of work, means several advantages which are listed below.

1. Costs and lead time reduction and therefore faster benefits [4 months].

2. Higher security at work and reduction of potential working risks.

3. High quality construction, meeting the requirements of the CTE and energy Efficiency.

4. Different materials option. Adaptable and exportable housing [Growing Houses].

5. Option of relocate the house in other place [Mobility].

6. Real sustainability from the way of building and used materials. Optimization and Recycling.

7. Noise, discomfort and waste reduction. The main work is done at the factory.

8. Project, design, manufacture and assembly of the prefab house.

9. Structural Safety and precision, overall in earthquake zones.

10. Accessible Housing and elevator option.

The system used for the housing construction is a modular three-dimensional components system manufactured in assembly. The main structure is composed of galvanized steel sheet elements with rigid joints solved by welding, fulfilling all requirements set by the CTE.

The modular construction system manufacturing assembly line not only seeks to optimize energy resources, human and material, but also to optimize in benefit of customization and adaptation of the building.

Prefab Modular House Wikkelhouse, Holland

1. Photos
2. Installation
3. Video
4. Manufacturer Contact
5. Links

Fiction Factory, once a theater scenery company, has expanded its design and construction initiative to include a prefabricated modular home, the Wikkelhouse. The design utilizes high strength cardboard as a main element of the structure. During the production process, the house-shaped mold is wrapped with 24 layers of cardboard — leading to the origin of the structure’ name, which in english loosely translates to ‘wrap house.’ Using the same main components in each structure, the design of each home can differ greatly in terms of overall size and individualized features.

Since Fiction Factory’s initial introduction of Wikkelhouse, the company has successfully installed the structure in various different environments — both natural and urban. One of Wikkelhouse’s natural application remains in London’s Amber Lakes, a nature reserve close to the bustling city. Urban applications include the house’s installation in Rotterdam Red Apple Marina floating alongside the boats and as an office for OVG Real Estate Services in Amsterdam. The company has also experimented with placing the lightweight structure of  prefab modular house on a rooftop of a former coal storage facility in the Hoxton Docks area of London.

Wikkelhouse is made up of 1.2 meter deep segments that can easily be connected and disconnected. The modular setup makes the house highly flexible. Add extra segments for extra meters. Create your own floorplan. Change it later. Truly anything goes.

Each Wikkelhouse is tailor-made by specialized craftsmen. Extra windows, different finishings or your own color scheme - you can make Wikkelhouse even more to your liking.

Wikkelhouse is sustainably produced and made of materials that have minimal impact on the environment. Moreover, the segments can be reused over and over again and are 100% recyclable.

With a weight of only 500 kg per segment, Wikkelhouse doesn't need a foundation and can be placed anywhere you want your prefab modular house to be. On the beachside, in your backyard or even on a rooftop. Looking for a change of scenery? Just move the house to a different spot.

Modular Additions to Existing Home

Located in Berkeley Hills, California, the beautiful old house was built more than fifty years ago by Joseph Esherick - famous in San Francisco architect. George Homsey, who worked closely with Joseph Esherick, remembers that the construction of the house has begun for the sake of a single lady - Louise Nixon. She was a conservative nice woman who just wished to have a beautiful house. But, as the eighty-six-year-old architect from the state of California admits, this is not the whole prehistory of this wonderful house in Berkeley Hills.

Homsey looks back to distant times when it was a pick of Joseph's carrier. At that moment his unsophisticated and, at the same time, one-of-a-kind houses were spread throughout the country and everyone knew his name. George also remembers young "headshrinker" Nixon from the Stanford University who was looking for a new house of an Asiatic style somewhere near Berkeley Hills. Designers from Esherick Studio offered her a model of T-shaped house in Japanese style. They also proposed to cover the roof with shingle, which was typical for the Berkeley region. It was supposed to become an attention-getting house near the down slopes of Tilden Park.

The building was finally finished in the middle of 1950's. A fresh face of the Modernist American style, Lawrence Halprin, helped with landscape setting. He showed his vision of the eastern part of the house - meadow with a small runlet and a fascinating impoundment.

Nixon married Louise in 1967 and had been living in that house for nearly fifty years. Unfortunately, they had no children. Nixon died in 2003, and, a year later, his grand-nephew Eric Gimon (a physical scientist, the Energy Department insider and Technical Advisor) with his wife, Emma (Philosophy Doctor of architectural engineering), purchased the house. They faced the only problem - the former house keepers lived there only two together and Gimon's family needed more space in the house as they lived there with a little daughter Louise, two sons and a dog called Nefi. Many people for one old wooden house, isn't it?

So, the family decided to expand the territory of their new home. Emma admitted that they were worried too much about the process. They didn't want to destroy the architectural style of Joseph Esherick. Emma didn't much care about the landscape - she supposed, it was neglected and wasn't finished at all. So, at the beginning of the 2000's they decided to renew the landscape and make it so that it was combined with the overall picture of the house.

Phil Kaefer, Benjamin Parco, Gary Roth and Kate Simonen helped the Gimons to implement their desire. Kate had worked on an idea of prefab additions at the beginning of 2000s. Few years later, she cooperated with architects Parco and Kaefer, creating new modular additions to existing home. And the landscape designer Gary Roth had also joined them. He had been working hand in glove with Lawrence Halprin until he died in the year 2009.

They were discussing a lot of ideas that could allow the family extend their living space. At last, the command decided to remain the original idea of the house and to update the eating area, make a tremendous decking for Gimons to have a rest there. They wanted the family to finish their working day and come home where they, after having dinner in their new maple kitchen, will finally have a rest in their new immense deck which takes much space in the southern part of the common house area.

At first, considering to rebuild their old house as soon as possible, Eric and Emma had faced with one problem - it was too insecure to lift a crane onto the top of the hill. They had decided that question very fast and erected the frame of the modular additions to existing home in a few days. What helped them? Walls were made of prefab panels, and unique butterfly roof, despite its big size, was pointed directly ahead. That let the architect team work with no fear to damage something.

The building team had devised all parts of the modular additions to existing home the way that simplified its installing. They shifted lighting parts into big boxes, that had been placed then and there; moved electrical outlets right onto the floor and installed cordless and program-controlled light switches. Paying attention to the couple's preferences, it was known that the house owners honored environmental conditions they lived at. So, they made a decision to cooperate with the group of architects to build a modular additions to existing home with green components that will let them save their money. Heat pump was installed and electricity is generated with roof-integrated solar array.

From the very beginning of the house rebuilding, there was set a goal to construct it much better than it really had been before. Architects stated that the concept had already grown out of its initial construction and customer preferences. Gary Roth explained that his team hadn't tried to jump off the original design and had been working with finished material, just keeping it up to date.

Architecture Kate Simonen, Phil Kaefer, Benjamin Parco
Area 1,800 square feet
Location Berkeley Hills, California
Year 2009
Photos Caren Alpert

Prefab Frame House by Jens Risom

Jens Risom, a famous furniture designer, has announced himself as a talented architect. Popular magazines were shocked to learn that he built a nice summer house for his family for less than $30 000, because previously they had written that it was impossible. He got in touch with one of the popular newspapers and said that he built such an inexpensive prefab frame house they couldn’t believe.

Jens Risom tells that he has found the triangular prefab framing in catalog and brought it to Rhode Island to construct a prefabricated house there. Eventually, the block-modular building system has become more developed, since the post-war period the reputation of such houses was almost zero. Houses were built quickly and they were of poor quality. Jens Risom has proved that prefabs can be constructed due to new standards with wooden frames, an incredibly high ceiling and more other peculiarities. Having been worked for years as a designer, it was not that hard for Jens to create his home project.

Risom was born in Copenhagen in 1916 in the family of the prosperous architect. He remembers with emotional warmth how he liked to spend his childhood with family in Denmark far from the urban bustle. He admits that his father, being the author of a book about house building, had a great influence on him and was the authority for him. His father often struggled with different situations when he couldn’t drive his project to the end. Jens, wishing to gain full control over his objects, suggested father’s struggles to be enormous. He tells with pleasure that he was always fond of design because architecture is the most elegant art he knows.

After finishing the studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts he began to gain experience in architecture, working for the architect E. Kuhn. Back at that time, Jens Risom began to think about designer career in the United States. He stopped his thoughts on modern furniture design. He stayed in Manhattan in search of appropriate conditions to start his own business. His first serious proposal became from Dan Cooper who was creating soft goods, being the reputable and well-known decorator. This proposal was not to the young and ambitious Jens liking, because he did not plan to focus his designer career on textiles. Sometime after that, he was allowed to demonstrate to the public some furniture designed by himself. This greatly increased the authority of Cooper.

Risom’s talent was noticed right from the jump, for the reason that Cooper’s works were being performed in a quiet style for many years. Over a pretty short period of time Jens found his admirers and world designers began to learn about him and come to his shows. Jens has been working with Cooper for a few years and finally he had realized that he had no opportunity to control the whole process. For this reason he had separated from Cooper and became an independent unit in the design world. All the more authority he had acquired helping Hans Knoll to finish and represent society his first collection of furniture.

The fate of the young designer was intervened by the Second World War without remorse. For several years he was serving abroad. After returning back to New York, he decided to continue his career all alone and start his own collection under his name. Jens’s popularity gradually began to move into top gear and by the beginning of the 60’s, people had come in scores to employ to Risom’s designer company.

While living with his family in Connecticut, Jens was looking for the most comfortable place on Block Island to build a summer house to have a rest there. His wife with children preferred to spend summer in their rented apartment on the seaside and far from urban hustle, remembering how they lived in Denmark. Finally, after a couple of years, he found a convenient place for house construction in the North of Block Island. Before he started to build, he had been seeking out modules for his prefab frame house. He was looking quite long for the most fitted materials that could cost not too much and weather out wild winds, specific to Block Island’s area. At last, he found a respectful design and construction company in Wayland, Massachusetts. It has fulfilled all Risom’s requirements and wishes – cathedral ceilings, panoramic glass wall to let nature inside, wood surfaces with a soft shade and also 10 feet of extra territory. That’s all coasted him over twenty thousand US dollars. After all of the blocks and house parts had been ordered, he developed a design for the construction of his new home. When everything was thoroughly planned, he took care of the safe order transportation through Rhode Island to Block Island. The base of the house was slightly elevated. But it had been targeted so skillfully that no one would ever guess.

It is well-known that the weather on the island is not so quiet as everyone wants it to be. Block Island is famous for its foggy moments when there is no allusion to fogs but in a short period of time, everything is covered with heavy mist and people cannot even see each other, staying quite close. These circumstances made the house being built five weeks longer than it was expected. Construction of the prefab frame house was completed in late spring and at the beginning of the summer Risom's family, finally, settled in a new home. However, they moved there not in a full complement, as daughters have been already living in their own homes.

Only two small floors, but the lower one contains two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen facilities, a living room and a dining room. Meanwhile, boys territory is on the upper floor. What a magical place to escape from the routine of everyday life! Indeed, from the end of spring and till the end of autumn (those were periods of time when Jens could escape from his work and stay with his wife and sons) Risom's family was spending time providing different kinds of activities - from fishing to bushwalks.

From time to time, prefab frame house design was supplemented with new details; old parts were replaced with new, something had to be repaired after years that the family lived there. For instance, a building superintendent, John Spier, had helped to replace old glass parts that were rigidly attached to the wooden frame, to new parts that were not so dangerous as old ones. He admitted that to work with large glass was every time fearfully for him. He explained, that it always existed a risk that the glass would be broken to atoms and hurt him and would even make him bleed. But he knew that the new glass would be safer than the old one. Being 97 years old, Jens with his wife arrived to the Block Island to see their new glass in the frame.

Jens admits that he always worried that his summer house would look too new when he wanted to change something in it. His son Sven wonders, how his father always managed to change something and to make it better than it really was. With a faint smile on his face, he tells that his father, being serious to his creation, is proud that he has made his family happy with their home. He felt that the inspiration came to him from the natural village lifestyle. Risom remembers that his life in Denmark was different from today's city life but it was so nice.

Project The Risom Residence
Area 700 square foot
Location Block Island, Rhode Island
Photos Floto + Warner

Prefab Sustainable House with Geothermal System

Greg and Victoria met on a Montauk beach at first when they were teenagers. After many years they decided to leave Manhattan and to return to Long Island where together they wanted to build a sustainable house. The Hamptons hamlet is a perfect place for children during summer. And when they made a decision to have a dwelling where their family with sons, Lucas and Dylan, could escape from the busy city, they definitely knew where it should be.

Paul Masi of Bates Masi Architects is a Victoria’s brother and they decided to work with him. Masi designed a special house for his sister and for his brother-in-law; the main area of the house has a double-height; kitchen, living room and dining room are located in one space connected with outdoors with a large glass pocket doors. Victoria told that they didn’t want to separate the indoors and outdoors. The project was finished in 2008 after two years of works. The house is environmentally friendly; has a geothermal cooling and heating system and a prefabricated foundation. The family got as a result a beach house with the perfect design.

Passive System for Cooling and Heating

During spring and autumn the space of living room, dining rooms and kitchen can be ventilated naturally as it opens on two sides. In summer the direct sunlight is prevented by an overhang and in winter the house has a lot of light and warmth, because it is time when the sun is low.

There are two layers of aluminum woven-coil drapes outside the south-facing large windows above the living room. Due to drapes the house is kept from the overheating in hot months, but when the weather is cooler they allow the sun to warm the space. The texture and appearance of drapes are similar to fireplace netting; they are produced by Cascade Coil Drapery, an Oregon company, and made of recy­cled scrap metal. The company also supplies the hearth market.

Geothermal System for Cooling and Heating

The house’s geothermal system is open-loop; this system uses 55-dergee temperature of the groundwater for cooling and heating the house. An exterior condenser was not need, as the needed equipment is in the basement utility room. Masi said that here the salt air corrodes them; so they didn’t want to have the condenser and they wanted use geothermal instead.

There are several types of geothermal systems, to heat and cool house they use the constant temperature of Earth, in winter it is warmer than the open air and in summer it is cooler. What kind to choose and is it necessary to install one, depends on some factors.

In the Pryors’ and in other open-loop systems the pipes draw water from the well into the house, then heat pump extracts heat or transfers excess heat to the water before its return to the ground. And in system, called closed-loop, there is some special solution in the pipes; this solution acts as a heat exchanger in buried under-ground pipes. If there is enough clean water that is supplied to the heat pump, an open-loop system is considered to be much more economical, because there is required less excavation.

A pond-loop system has sub-merged pipes in a water. A horizontal-loop system pipes can be buried six feet in the ground. For not large houses, vertical-loop systems may be suitable, but the price of burying pipes deeper than 400 feet down, is pretty high.

The main advantage of geothermal system is that it is more economical than air-conditioning and gas furnaces systems. And it is much more expensive. Every year the owners can save a lot of money, up to 60 percent. Also the upfront cost can be offset by the tax incentives.

Prefab House Design

The foundation of structure is made of concrete insulated panels, which were produced by Superior Walls of Hudson Valley. They were shipped to the building site, craned and bolted together. There was no need for panels to be waterproofed or coated during building process, as the panels are made of water-resistant, dense concrete mix.

Because of a prefabricated exterior walls could have excessively high price, the architects decided to change their plan. But the panels, produced at Cement Board Fabricators’ factory, were used as the rain screen. The prefabricated panels help the house keep comfort temperature by absorbing and transferring heat through gaps made for ventilation between the siding and panels.

In the house Masi used finishes, which are low in toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde and benzene, and volatile organic compounds. For painting the interior walls, there was used Benjamin Moore Aura matte paint. Osmo Polyx-Oil was used for sealing the American walnut floors, this finish includes thistle, soybean, and sunflower oils among its components.

Architecture: Bates Masi Architects
Location: Long Island, New York
Year: 2008
Photos: Ty Cole

Prefab Earth Sheltered Homes by Green Magic Homes

Prefab Earth Sheltered Homes by Green Magic Homes

Have you ever thought about living in a beautiful, comfortable and eco-friendly apartment? What about a "house under the hill"? The construction of such an unusual property is a bold experiment, but it is fully justified. Dreams where you can forget about high maintenance fees may come true! Don’t you believe? Let’s check!

More land for less money

The American company Green Magic Homes can offer you such a unique chance with modest prices – houses, made of high-quality materials and covered with vegetation. For example, a four hundred square foot earth-ship will cost you just about $14,000 US that is approximately $35 US per square foot. The company also proposes cheaper variants – belvederes that will cost a buyer only $25 US for a one square foot area. Though, this is a less viable option because of its open conception. But this variant also can be considered when choosing a suitable home for you.

Possibilities to expand your living space over and over again

The modules of these Prefab Earth Sheltered Homes are made of lightweight and durable material – a composite laminate. It is easier than ever to compile your home because the modules are assembled from prefabricated panels, mounted on a flat surface. And then with the help of a drill they are linked together through special holes on the edges. You will be pleasantly surprised to find out that the modular structure of such houses allows home owners to assemble at first a small house and then successively expand your living space when it is needed. Green Magic Homes assures its clients that such facilities and equipment as sewer system, plumbing and wiring channels as well as air channels can be added at any stage of construction and the external coverage is wholly waterproof.

Why not to plant greenery on the roof?

When all modules are assembled, the walls of your house will be covered up with soil. Sooner, grass or flowers will grow out in that place. But there is also another variant of such houses. Walls and roof are built into the earth at the very beginning, so that there will be no need to cover the house with vegetation.

The well-known company from Florida, Green Magic Homes, offers everyone to feel themselves like hobbits. You need only to purchase there a modular home, resembling a "house under the hill", assemble it and cover up the top layer with soil. This bears not only an aesthetic burden, but also gives you a chance to save your money on utilities costs. Even in colder climates it plays a big role in reducing the cost of Prefab Earth Sheltered Home heating because soil and grass covering gives the excellent heat insulating properties.

Infinite Design Possibilities

Green Magic Homes prefab technology allows you to generate varios spaces ideal for: permanent houses, camps, cabins, offices, hotel rooms, clinics, classrooms, health centers, lounges for meetings, covered parking, deposits, Gazebos, among many others more.

MINIMOD - off site construction house by MAPA

Description from architects: "MINIMOD proposes an innovative, intelligent and sustainable alternative for dwelling, enjoying the benefits of the off site construction (OSC)technology, with no waste and no mess. The house has a modulated structure and design, which allows multiple configurations and customizations. Starting from a minimal module, MINIMOD invests in customization, design and sustainability.

The production is carried out in a prefabricated manner and enjoys the steel frame system technology, which allows the client program definition needs and choice of finishes, as well as automation options. Depending on the composition of the modules, the MINIMOD offers different possibilities – ranging from a compact weekend retreat, a small show room for events up to larger programs and elaborated as hotels and inns, combining a larger number of modules. The modules are 100% prefabricated. MINIMOD than is take to any site by truck or disassembled into smaller pieces and taken to the ground for final assembly. This allows for a clean work without harming the natural environment.

Importantly, the expansion and addition of new modules can be performed either at initial installation or in the middle of the process, according to the needs and budgets of the client.

MINIMOD is more than a product of design, is more than a house. It’s practicality combined with comfort, it’s economy allied to nature, and it’s a unique experience of housing and contemporary living."

Architects: MAPA
Project website: MINIMOD
Area: 27 sq.m.
Location: Porto Alegre, Brasil
Year: 2013
Photography: Leonardo Finotti

Prefab Desert Two house in Palm Springs

Walls for the three-bedroom 2,200-square-foot prefab house were framed in just three hours. Using 42 prebuilt steel panels from Blue Sky Building Systems, the crew started at 8:30 a.m. and had all the walls up by 11:30 the same morning. All the rough framing, including the roof, was finished in three days instead of the usual three to six weeks. Total elapsed time, from pouring the foundation to showing off the finished design: just 4.5 months.

Architect: Jim Jennings Architecture
Construction: Blue Sky Building Systems
Area: 2,200 sq.ft.
Location: Palm Springs, California
Year: April 2013
Photography: Nuvue Interactive

Modern Prefab Home by TobyLongDesign

This 3,000 sqft modern prefab home replaced a dilapidated cottage on this beautiful street in Northern California. Located in Burlingame, CA, the house is a showcase of contemporary style and eco-friendly living. The design of the 4 bedrooms home includes a living roof, a myriad of recycled materials and energy-efficient features including electric car hook-ups. Developed by TobyLongDesign, the Cleverhomes process for constructing modern prefab homes is now easier and more efficient. Prefab evolved.

Architecture and Design Toby Long Design - Clever Homes, Cipriani Studios Design
Project Burlingame Residence
Location Burlingame, CA
Area 3,000 sqft

P.A.T.H. manufactured homes by Riko and Philippe Starck

The desire to do good, better and fairer has long driven the work and production of internationally acclaimed creator Philippe Starck, as well as the work of Riko, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of sustainable prefabricated wooden buildings. These joint values have brought them together to create Prefabricated Accessible Technological Homes – P.A.T.H., industrially manufactured houses tailored to meet the individual dwelling needs and expectations of people worldwide.

Each of the 34 models of houses from the P.A.T.H range is distinguished by Philippe Starck’s signature timeless design. Yet how you choose to create your own compelling living space is completely up to you – P.A.T.H. offers a wide range of house sizes, numbers of rooms, floors, and multiple open floor plans that best fit your lifestyle and needs. You can choose between different facades, a range of roofing types, a variety of interior finishes and fixtures, such as light fittings, floor finishes, bathroom tiles, and many other possibilities to personalize your P.A.T.H. Make the most of a wide palette of renewable energy producing equipment such as photovoltaic solar panels, wind turbines and heat pumps, and rest assured that P.A.T.H model houses are rapidly built and offer their owners full long-term assistance.

The Krubiner Residence by Swatt Miers Architects and Simpatico Homes

Designed by Swatt Miers Architects, built by Simpatico Homes the The Krubiner Residence is a modern custom-quality prefab home situated in Emeryville, California. Factory costs are typically around $150 per square foot for standard prefab homes by Simpatico Homes.

Design: Swatt Miers Architects
Manufacture: Simpatico Homes
Year: 2012
Location: Emeryville, California
Photos: Russel Abraham, Kate Carboneau

Folded roof house on Muskö island

Folded roof house is CKR second house for Swedish kit house manufacturer Arkitekthus. A one-story house with an asymmetric folded roof plan. The bedrooms are positioned at the gable ends and the living room and kitchen is between, with an open main facade.

For the site on Musko island the separate guest house and sauna building were specifically designed for the the client.

Design: Claesson Koivisto Rune
Year: 2008
Location: Muskö island, Sweden

The D*Haus concept - modular dynamic house-transformer

Conceived for the harsh, climatic extremes the modular house-transformer can respond dynamically to its environment by mechanical adaptation to meteorological and seasonal conditions.

The flexibility of the D*Haus allows adaptation from day to night and winter to summer by literally moving inside itself. The thick heavy external walls unfold into internal walls allowing glass internal walls to become facades. Doors become windows and vice versa.

In the winter time, the house-transformer is in a square formation, with small surface area and small windows. It literally hugs itself. As the climate warms and seasons change, the house opens up, like a flower opens up to allow light and air to penetrate the inside of the building offering full panoramic views of the surroundings.

House made from prefabricated timber elements, Austria

A large living space of the house made from prefabricated timber elements, the entrance and two small bedrooms are organised around a central core containing the technical installations and bathroom. Four large openings create beautiful views into the surrounding landscape.

Design: Sven Matt
Location: Mellau, Vorarlberg, Austria
Area: 90 sqm
Budget: € 170,000
Year: 2010
Photography: Björn Matt

Hydeaway House by Schwartz and Architecture, Sonoma, CA

"The design for this 1,900 square foot home adjacent to a working vineyard in Sonoma begins with a simple, one-story rectangular floor plan, not unlike any number of recent pre-fabricated prototypes for low cost, sustainable single-family homes. But then, the shape of the house begins to morph with the push and pull of the surrounding environment. The simple rectangular box folds in two to embrace the open 1-acre site. Walls skew under the rectangular roof to focus on near and distant views. This then creates the tapering roof overhangs that strategically protect the private spaces from the harshest of the summer sun. In the end, the design retains the benefits of a simple plan with streamlined construction, and the economical and sustainable use of materials. Yet with just a few subtle shifts in the plan, we create a home engaged with its surroundings and far more able to take advantage of the best its site has to offer -- qualities often lacking in the simple box." Schwartz and Architecture

Design: Schwartz and Architecture
Contractor: Eames Construction
Photography: Matthew Millman, Eddy Joaquim

Fishers Island House by Resolution: 4 Architecture, New York

"Situated on a wooded lot with views to either side of Fishers Island, this vacation home boasts all the amenities one could desire of a beach home. Built for a family that currently resides in London, this 4,469 sf home serves as a gathering place for a large extended family during summer months and the holiday seasons. With the ability to sleep and gracefully entertain dozens of people, this thirteen-module prefab home will be transported by ferry to Fishers Island, which is located just off the coast of New London, Connecticut." Resolution: 4 Architecture

Size: 4,469 sf
Modules: 13 Boxes
Typology Series: Double Wide
Bedrooms: 6
Baths: 5
Features: Media Room, Roof Deck, Bunkroom, Screened Porch, Guest Suite, 2 Car Garage, Workshop, Outdoor Shower, Outdoor Fireplace, Outdoor Kitchen
Environmentally Friendly Features: 96% Energy Efficient Boiler, Solar Photovoltaic System, Green Roof, Solar Hot Water, SystemGrass Pavers,
Interior: Bamboo Floors, Maple Cabinets, Caesarstone Countertops, Aluminum Clad Wood Windows with Low E, Slate Bathroom Floors, Insulated Glass
Exterior: Azek Infill Panels, T&G Cedar Siding, Ipe Decking, Cement Board Panels

Project Credits:
Resolution: 4 Architecture
Joseph Tanney, Robert Luntz
Project Architects: Paul Coughlin, Brendan Miller
Manufacturer: Simplex Industries
Project Coordinator: Jason Drouse
Engineer: Lynne Walshaw P.E., Greg Sloditskie
Contractor: BD Remodeling & Restoration
Interior Decoration/Furniture: David Bentheim
Photographer: © RES4

Kullman Frame System modular house, Michigan

The modular house design is composed of two intersecting diagonal axes centered around social area - dining room as a meeting place. One axis incorporates the bedrooms, the other axis includes the living room and public entry hall. The design consists of two modules and uses new modular technology - Kullman Frame System (KFS), which allows build modular homes of prefabricated steel hollow tube frames. This prefabricated system has capacity to achieve 12 stories height and uses patented connection technology that speeds the overall construction process and minimizes field finishing.

Design: Garrison—Architects

Prefabricated courtyard home

This prefabricated courtyard home supports an indoor/outdoor lifestyle that extends the utility of the house beyond its interior space. The home combines modern, clean design with Cradle-to-Cradle CM inspired materials and LEED® Platinum environmental program. There are three different versions of this model that range from 2 bedrooms and 1 bath at 950 square feet to 3 bedrooms and 2 baths at 1232 square feet. Wood ceiling, cork floors, optional wood siding and natural wood millwork make the prefabricated courtyard home comfy and warm. Clerestory windows, floor-to-ceiling glass, transom windows and solar tubes bring light into almost all parts of the house, including the closets. Appropriate shading, ceiling fans and super insulation reduce cooling/heating needs and smart AC/heating reduces power bills. The Nest Learning Thermostat selflearns how inhabitants live and keeps the home at the prefered temperature. The living, dining, and kitchen space are all connected, it makes easy for all in the family to do their own thing – or share.

Design: LivingHomes

Custom prefab modular house with patinated metal facade, Austin, Texas

This custom prefab modular house (Austin, Texas) is green, efficient and modern, it consists of two modules, and it aims to offer an affordable package deal. With facade in a patinated metal, the custom prefab house has direct connections with the external space via glass sliding walls and a large covered deck with area up to 2,000 square feet.

This house has 3 bedroom and 2 bath, the total area is 1,400 square feet. The home features an open floor plan dining/kitchen/living area in one module and private rooms in the other. The combination of two modules form an L-shape structure, and the living spaces are contiguous with a covered backyard deck that expands the living area by 600 sf. The house features large sliders that bring daylight in, carefully placed windows, and ten-foot ceilings. Green features include Gerkin high-efficiency windows with thermally broken frames, 2x6 exterior walls, an Energy Star high-efficiency cooling/heating system and a Galvilum double-lock seam metal roof. This house came in at $192 per sf.

Design: Ma Modular

Modular housing project in Australia

This modular home is one of the first modular housing projects completed by Intermode. The prefab modular house system was conceived to create a modern and simple housing solution that, through modular building methods and innovative design, delivers contemporary and affordable design. The house, consisting of several modules, encompasses proprietary systems, standard building dimensions and prefab technologies to reduce the costs of a house construction, while maintaining the open spaces and clean simple lines conducive to modern living.

The house was designed and built as a series of pavilions, some freestanding and others connected by glazed links, integrated in the whole structure via extensive decking. The facades are darkly clad to look boldly in the stark landscaping.

Design: Intermode
Photography: Derek Swalwell

Prefab SIP Panel House

Built with Structural Insulated Panels (SIP), this prefab SIP panel house is conceived as an attempt to achieve a maximum optimization of dimensional and structural qualities of this construction material. This modular house was built in 10 days with 40 split-level panels (21 cm x 488 cm x 122 cm) and 71 wall panels (11.4 cm x 244 cm x 122 cm). The SIP panels exposed on the facade are fashioned as terraces on the third and second floors.

Design: Alejandro Soffia, Gabriel Rudolphy
Area: 139 sqm
Year: 2011
Location: Santo Domingo, Chile
Photography: Felipe Fontecilla

Prefabricated house by Kieran Timberlake in Taylors Island, Maryland

Prefabricated house, Taylors Island, Maryland

This prefabricated house (Taylors Island, Maryland) is composed entirely of ready-made components and off-site manufactured elements, assembled in less than six weeks. The install process begins with off-site manufactured ceiling and floor panels. They distribute cold and hot water, radiant heating, waste water, electricity and ventilation through the building. Fully integrated mechanical room and bathroom modules are lifted into planned position. Wall panels containing insulation, structure, windows, exterior rain screen and interior finishes complete the cladding.

Design: Kieran Timberlake Associates
Photography: Barry Halkin, Peter Aaron / Esto

Modern white prefabricated home design, Italy

Modern prefabricated home design, Italy

This modern white refabricated home design (Italy) born from the notion that the house should be a manifestation of function, environmental responsibility, fashion, elegance and poetry in life. This open, modern concept house features futuristic edge with a minimalist interiors, because everyday living should never be boring, but simple.

Design: Subissati

Small one bedroom modular building

Small one bedroom modular building

This complete small modular building offers a living room, a kitchen room, a bedroom and a separate bathroom. The house fits on semi truck trailer and can be transported just about anywhere. The 280 SF modular unit come with all the essentials appliances. It is pre-plumbed, pre-wired and ready to plug in.

Design: Modular Dwellings

Modern prefab home, Texas

Prefab house, Texas

This 440 SF prefab home serves as a simple retreat space on the beautiful remote area outside an arts colony in Texas. It is the first of three prefab modules that are planned to install for the site. The module installed complete with an outdoor shed and a fully finished exterior and interior, leaving only sun-shielding canopies, decks and utility hookups to be assembled on-site.

Design and manufacture: Alchemy

Steel Frame Transportable Prefab Home by Bachbox, New Zealand

Steel frame transportable prefab home, New Zealand

The steel frame transportable prefab home (New Zealand) specifically designed for simple transportation and crainage when fully assembled. The low maintenance powder coated steel shell can be made entirely secure by four folding decks which enclose the building and the system can be operated by remote controlled electric winches. The prefab building is designed suitable for extreme environments and to be cyclone and earthquake resistant. Can be combined or customised to fit any need: holiday cabin/bach, permanent home, rental, office, temporary accommodation.

Design and manufacture: Bachbox (New Zealand)

Pre assembled house, Denmark

Pre assembled house, Denmark

This pre assembled house (Denmark) was created with the ambition of designing a quality building at an affordable price. The prefab house is in several different variations which have the basic floor plan design to reduce costs. The building has a kitchen with installed furniture, utility room, bathroom and large room which can be divided into two spaces, and in addition a large living room and roof terrace.

Design: ONV arkitekter (Denmark)

Factory-built modular house, New York

Factory-built modular house, New York

This 1800 square foot factory-built modular house (New York) is located on a 5-acre rocky outcrop. The owner, who loves rock climbing and mountain biking, had camped out on the hilltop during the siting of the new house to determine the best orientation, spot and angle for his new escape. The house has three sides of transparent glass walls and wrap-around outdoor decks with a loft-like social space upstairs that contains the living room, dining room and the kitchen.

Design: Resolution 4 Architecture
Manufacturer: Apex Homes
Photography: Phloto & Warner

Round prefab Energy Star home, Canada

Round prefab ENERGY STAR home, Canada

This round prefab Energy Star home is the first Energy Star efficiency program qualified house in British Columbia, Canada. Energy Star homes are more comfortable: cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter; save money on energy bills compared to structures built to standard code; are better for the surrounding environment, generating fewer greenhouse gases and using less energy; are 25% more efficient than those erected to minimum building standards. It’s similar getting 3 months of free energy use every maintenance year.

Design: Mandala Homes

Minimalist prefab modular house, California

Minimalist prefab modular house, California

Rising at 1,5 meters above the ground, this 185 sq.m. minimalist prefab modular house (California) capturing the beautiful views of the surrounding desert landscape and Mount San Jacinto. The main living space is designed facing west with view of the local open landscape. The structure was built using prefab modules and also consist of a metal frame which can be clad in glass, wood or metal. The architects used three different types of basic building modules: external modules for outdoor areas of decks, modules that contain indoor living areas and modules to provide sun protection.

Design: Marmol Radziner

Prefab Geodesic Dome Home

Prefab geodesic dome home

The prefab geodesic dome home design offers an easy and quick assembling of the structure. On a timber or concrete basic it takes only one day to raise the building which is made of quality materials: 3x6" and 3x4” timber in pinewood and plywood. All sections are pre manufactured and ready to assemble with nuts and bolts and the sealing with rubber or asphaltpaper. This prefab geodesic dome homes are certified and with quality and precision installation, meet international building standards and rules. Delivery is easy in container and lifting crane is not needed to build structures until 50 SF. The prefab domes are proposed as passive or low-energy solutions with eco friendly energy efficient technology in heating and electricity.

Design: Easy Domes (Denmark)

Eco friendly modular home

Eco friendly modular home

This eco friendly modular home was selected as the Feature Home by the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association for the 2008 Home & Garden Show. Energy-efficient windows and appliances, recycled materials and smart wiring mitigate the effect of the building's eco-footprint. The bedroom wing and living/kitchen room wing, linked at the main entry door and by the courtyard outdoor deck, provide multiple possible accesses to the deck - an integration of outdoor/indoor living spaces, including kitchen area, a spa with a canopy and potential for various seating configurations.

Design: Architecton (Canada)

Prefabricated home, Portland, Oregon

Prefabricated home, Portland, Oregon

Completed in 2010, this 2,300 sq.f. prefabricated home (Portland, Oregon) was assembled over an remodeled daylight garage/workout/office space below. The largest room in the prefab home is over 12'6" tall, 17' deep, and 42' wide, with no interior walls. Inside, the prefab home is finished with custom porcelain and glass tile bathrooms, museum-quality lighting, teak hardwood flooring, super-insulated roof and walls construction and hybrid high-efficiency hot water heating.

Design and manufacture: Stillwater Dwellings (Seattle, WA)

Small modular house, Sweden

Small modular house, Sweden

This small modular house is a concept from cooperation between Sweden and Denmark. The various modules can be connected in different ways to meet different needs and assemble a variety of designs, kind of lego structure blocks for adults. The house includes pergola and deck as well as possibility to link other facilities such as outdoor shower and outdoor kitchen.

Design and manufacture: Add a room (Sweden)
Photography: Add a room, Matti Marttinen

LEED Platinum sustainable prefab home

LEED Platinum sustainable prefab home

Designed for “smart” active lifestyle, this ultra modern 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom 2085 sqft LEED Platinum sustainable prefab home includes a large separate studio/office space and bright stunning principle spaces. The home has been verified through every stage of design and construction to ensure that it meets the stringent standards of the Canadian Green Building Council’s LEED program. The house is located 200 meters from Semiahmoo Bay in White Rock’s East Beach community, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Design: Pb Elemental (Seattle, USA)
Construction: InHaus Development
Photos: SeeVirtual