Prefab 20*20: Visions for 400 Square Foot Homes

With all the Olympic hoopla that's taken over Vancouver, I was kind of impressed with myself for managing to make my way over to Emily Carr University to check out the last weekend of the Prefab 20*20 gallery exhibit. I was glad I made the effort. The show featured some inspiring (and some unusual) entries from around the world, and it definitely got me thinking about the future of small-space living.Prefab 20*20 presents the winners and runners up of an open design competition that was held last year, in which teams from around the world were asked to propose a free-standing prefab dwelling with a footprint of no more than 400 square feet.

Organized by Architecture for Humanity Vancouver, the Architectural Institute of British Columbia, and the Interior Design Show West, the contest challenged designers to create a space that would allow two adult occupants to sleep, bathe, cook, live, work, and study. (As if that weren't enough, the space also had to provide adequate storage, which is more than most small units currently on the market can boast.)

285 teams from 149 cities – 26 countries in all – responded with their concepts. Evaluated by a jury that included architecture professors and writers, as well as practicing architects, the field was narrowed down to one winner, two runners up, and four honorable mentions.

Pictured above, top row:

  • Winner – Ecomobi Modular Housing System: Mobius Architects (Krakow, Poland)
  • Runner up – Pods: Blackwell Architecture (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Runner up – Thick-Skinned Regionalism: Daniel Preusse, Bo Yoon and Matthew Fajkus (London, UK)
  • Honorable mention – Self-Sufficient Prefab House: System Design Studio (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Honorable mention – Urban (Tree) House: Jason David Designs (New York, USA)

Second row:

  • Honorable mention – The Spontaneous House: Cobogó Team (Diadema, Brazil)
  • Honorable mention – From Parking to Living: Áporo Arquitetura (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  • Shortlisted – Tic Tac Toe House: Block Party Collective (Vancouver, Canada)

What do you think? Would you live in any of these homes, or is there still a disconnect between what designers think of as a home of the future and what people actually want? (For what it's worth, I'm partial to the urban treehouse entry from the New York team.)

See more images of the winner and more shortlisted entries at Prefab 20*20. And if you're in Vancouver, there are still two more days to check out the show in person.

(Images: As cited above)

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