Despite flying the flags of accessibility, affordability and globalization, pre-fab homes have always been a local concept with a client range of only a couple of hundred miles. Where's the revolution in that? That was precisely what moved Jared Levy and Gordon Stott of Connect Homes to rethink the parameters of pre-fab housing. In fact, they — literally — busted them open.
With a prefab pedigree that was honed at prestigious architectural firm Marmol Radziner, they've not only got the concept of sleek and modern down, they've also been schooled in the luxuriously green concept. From cool roof and rain catchment systems to the use of recycled and sustainable materials inside and out, these are homes that are both efficient and beautiful. But that's only the icing on the cake.
As Jared and Gordon explained, they discarded the old notions of pre-fab and started from scratch. Instead of building a basic module that conforms to the size of a shipping container (the usual route, which makes shipping cost-prohibitve to anyone who lives far from where the basic components are manufactured), or building a home from a shipping container (the usual alternative, which, since shipping containers are not designed as homes, is neither "green" nor, once windows and doors are cut to make the container livable, structurally sound — without a lot of support), they thought outside the shipping container box, designing a prefab that was both both home and container in one.
The smaller size of the basic module, engineered to fit where most prefabs modules can't, opens up the global reach of prefab, which was the whole point of prefab: homes that were as easy and affordable as any other manufactured product. A Connect Home can be shipped via truck but also via rail and ship. Once at the site, remove the temporary protective metal outer layer (which shields vulnerable finishes) and voila! Your new house. (Or nearly voila — at 95% factory complete, with only module-line seaming and basic hook-up to be completed on-site, a new home can be move-in ready in two months). And shipping costs to your doorstep (or what will be your doorstep when it's put together!)? About the rent of a very generously sized apartment in a big city (and considerably less than the tens of thousands of dollars it costs to ship a container).
Which means that someone in New York and someone in Australia and someone in Switzerland can all purchase the home. After all, wasn't that the original point of prefab? To engineer a home that would be both time and cost-senstive in comparison to having a home built from scratch? A home that would be nearly as easy to buy as a car? Then Connect Homes has achieved their goal.
More Info: Connect Homes
Note: Connect Homes will be sharing a prototype of their smallest home, composed of two modules and furnished by interior designer Kishani Perera (with help from West Elm), at Dwell on Design, which takes place in LA this weekend. Go, and see for yourself that prefab can be...well...pretty fabulous.
(Images: Connect Homes)