Prefabs are quickly becoming my version of porn. If I’m not careful, I could spend all day cruising the internet, looking to be titillated the latest and sexiest designs. Each one has its own unique allure, its own enormous capacity for satisfaction.
Take the Perrinepod House. The 411 on this hottie claims it can be built in three days and that its heavy pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete walls can withstand tornadoes and earthquakes. Sufficiently teased by this claim, I look more closely and find that while the walls in most standard houses have an insulation R value of 1.9, the ones on this baby are a staggering 6.8. That’s the kind of statistic that could get a prefab junkie’s blood boiling. Not only does it provide sufficient shelter, it stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
We’ve seen the container house and the pop up coffee shop, but what about the container construction shelter? Conceived by Dublin-based designer Richard Barnwall, the Linx is a two-story break room comprised of four 20-foot shipping containers. Easily shippable (obviously) and erectable, this temporary structure seems to have everything a construction worker would need, including (it seems) luxury. No more blue porta-potties, the Linx comes equipped with a bathroom, a changing room with showers, office space and a lunchroom. (Evidently Barnwall doesn’t advocate sleeping on the job because there’s no nap room.)
Taking portable buildings to the extreme, Puma (the shoe company) hired the Architecture firm Lot-Ek to design a 11,000 sq. Ft mobile store, which they would send around the world on a cargo ship, accompanied by some Puma Sail boats.
Lot-Ek took 24 standard shipping containers, retrofitted and transformed them into what they are calling Puma City. The building was even built with international travel in mind, meeting international building codes, dramatic climate changes, plug-in electrical and HVAC systems and ease of assembly. This industrial tri-level super store, has an open design, with built in shelving, recessed lighting, large expansive outdoor decks and seems perfectly suited as a night club.
The time of the green prefab is quickly approaching. And the bright young minds of emerging architects are clearly focused on the key elements, which make a modern green building so appealing. Design, form, function and sustainability. Elements which make up the core of this house. But this shiny new green home wasn’t built in Venice California, or even Portland Oregon. No this one is in the dry desert just outside of Phoenix Arizona, at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.
The building was designed and built by students of Taliesin West, in collaboration with Venice based Architect Jennifer Siegal and the schools Dean, Victor Sidy.
The building was constructed on site, using pre-fab structural insulated panels, know as SIP panels. A SIP panel is typically made by sandwiching a core of rigid foam plastic insulation between two structural skins of oriented strand board. This type of system allows the entire shell of the building to be delivered on a truck and erected in just a few days.
I’m not sure what I like more: the weeHouse website or the weeHouse itself. As far as prefabs go, the weeHouse is similar to the Micro-compact in that it arrives by truck, factory-built and ready to live in, and it can be set down just about anywhere. Even on your roof.
Framed in wood and steel and floored in sustainable bamboo, the house is can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. From the LiveRight studio apartment-sized to the 2 bedroom SleepTight, the weeHouse was “inspired by sustainable design principles such as building small and efficiently.” But unfortunately, that’s about as “G” as the wee gets in the base model. If wee want greener materials and systems (solar, a green roof, etc.) wee have to request them.
I like aluminum – or aluminium, depending on which side of the ocean you live on – especially the 12-ounce variety. I also live near an aluminum plant and I know how much electricity is needed to extract the metal from the ore. So, when I heard that some folks in Japan were going to start building homes with aluminum, I was skeptical.
We’re all familiar with coffee to go, but what about a “To Go” coffee house? The world’s first “instant café” is the brainchild of architect and artist Adam Kalkin, whose work involves the design and implementation of “Quik Houses” created from used shipping containers. The instant coffee house was born out of the concept of crate internet cafés (Where’s there’s a computer, there must be coffee, right?) and redesigned from Kalkin’s Push Button House, which previewed at Art Basel Miami Beach.
The Cargo Café can be delivered just about anywhere by truck. From there, it’s a mere push of a button and a 90 second wait for it to open (which it does like a blooming flower) before the fully furnished café it’s ready for business – lights, tables, seats, even a kitchen are included.
G Living gets the heart of the container/home story buzzing all over the web. When we posted the story Genius Design: The House That Moves With You about a Dutch architecture firm building University dorms out of shipping containers, we got pounded. The flood of people reading that story was one of our biggest ever and it hasn’t really let up. As a result, we wanted to know more about why people are so fascinated by the idea of living inside the same containers that all of our other stuff arrives in. So, we went to one of the leading architects building his career around this new type of architecture, Peter De Maria.
Peter was kind enough to come into the studios and sit down for a special ROOM101 about the future of living in containers. Enjoy.
While two-time solar champs, the University of Colorado, didn’t win last year’s Solar Decathlon held in Washington, D.C. with their CORE house, they did place 7th. Is that good enough for these decathletes? Maybe not, but their house is definitely worth talking about. And here’s to hoping they come back in 2009 to kick some more solar ass.
Like many of the designs at the SD, the spine of CORE is made up of shipping containers for ease in transportation and size requirements of the competition — which is about 800 square feet, much smaller than a typical home.
I’ve heard of students roughing it, but sleeping in freight containers? That’s right. Only it’s not a case of desperate living or some torturous fraternity hazing — it’s a very cool,very useful idea developed by a Dutch company called TempoHousing. Lots of images after the jump
First conceived in the 1930s, the ISO dry freight container has been the universal shipping receptacle worldwide for the past fifty years. You’ve no doubt seen thousands of them in your lifetime.
But could you live in one? Before you say “No way, it’s too small” or “it’s too boring”, check this out: with standard dimensions of 40’ x 8’ x 8’6’, the containers can be stacked (a whopping 8,000 can fit on a large ship) and transported anywhere in the world via water, rail or road.
Let’s face it, building green is expensive. Even improvements that will pay off in the long run have a high initial cost. Obviously, protecting the planet is worth a couple extra bucks, but I’ll admit to having been in a store and struggling between the regular twinkle Christmas lights and the LED ones that cost seven times as much. And to be honest, the green in my pocket sometimes trumps the green for the planet.
It’s a frustrating choice consumers have to make — and one that is especially pronounced in the realm of green real estate.
A couple guys in Philly are going to make a LEED silver 1,000 square foot house for $100,000. And they’re blogging about it! Some days, I love being an American.
The best thing about container-type housing is the portability factor. With portability comes options. And options generally reduce waste. It’s like having people over for dinner and bringing out the cheap folding chairs.
That’s exactly what the Travelodge hotel chain proved last year in London. Rather than building costly and permanent hotels in areas with temporarily expanded needs, the company simply erected non-permanent structures using prefab sleep pods. The chain suggested outdoor festivals (such as Burning Man) could greatly benefit from such a concept.