Prefab Concepts Evolve into Custom Home Designs

by Lee Grutchfield, August 12, 2013

My partner Rolf Kielman and I first became interested in the idea of prefab home design in response to inquiries we were getting for off- the- shelf house plans for sale. It seemed a good idea to be able to bring well-designed, resource-efficient houses to potential clients who might not be able to afford full architectural services, but who would appreciate living in a home that was designed by an architect. We decided to develop a series of plans for prefab houses that could be made in a factory and trucked to a job site, resulting in a construction process that was more streamlined and less invasive to the landscape.

 

With our friend Andrew Keller, we came up with the idea of hosting an office charrette to kickstart these concepts. Several of the architects in our office designed and then presented ideas for small and prefab house designs. These designs were the early predecessors for some of the plans we are now beginning to offer to clients, which Rolf has written about in other blog posts. Some of those early threads of ideas have also evolved and have become part of what we have designed in subsequent years, within our main body of work.

Some of those threads include: creative ways of attaching PV solar panels to a small house; pergolas and roof overhangs that help control the inflow of the sun’s heat; open floor plans where kitchen, dining, and living spaces are combined into one room; and comfortable human-scaled building proportions for a family and a neighborhood.

Even though we often design larger houses, we invariably try to keep the elements to a human scale, whether it is a living room, a guest house, or a collection of buildings on a site.

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