Radical Prefab Pads

| March / April 2006

Want to feel the spring breeze? Slide that wall out of the way. Have an unused room draining resources? Detach it.

Prefabricated modular homes can lead in sustainability by maximizing space flexibility and incorporating green design -- and they cost about the same as conventional buildings. Worldchanging.com (Oct. 30, 2005) features a number of these updated double-wides.

Our favorites:

The Lovetann modular home is a dream for those who love control; its customizable options foster owner-builder collaboration. Walls fit onto an adaptable framework, so the house expands and contracts with the needs of the owner. Each futuristic home comes with built-in appliances and electronics, and options include rooftop gardens, solar panels, and organic food delivery. The Norwegian firm is partnering with architects and designers to make its homes available worldwide.

EcoMOD is the University of Virginia's sustainable answer to a lack of affordable housing. By 2009 students and faculty at the UVA School of Architecture will build three earth-friendly modular houses in low-income neighborhoods. Each home will serve as an environmental guinea pig, with designers testing insulation, window shapes, and light quality to find the most energy-efficient ways to make a home comfortable.

Designer Michelle Kaufmann's Breezehouse melds indoors and out with a wing-shaped roof that allows air to pass through the dwelling. It also boasts movable walls, countertops made of recycled paper, water- and energy-saving appliances, and toxin-free paints. Adding an extra room is a snap with this environmentally built, two-bedroom, two-bath retreat.