Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Absolutely Fabricated

Until recently, modernism has been the only architectural style to make serious inroads into prefab home manufacturing. That made sense, since boxy, minimalist houses are well-suited to the process of prefab manufacturing, whether delivered as kits of parts or modular components.

Several designers became known for their modern prefab home designs, including Michelle Kaufman for the modular Glidehouse (right, above) and Rocio Romero for the LV Series kit homes (right, below). As public awareness of prefab grew over the past five years, many other designers joined Kaufman and Romero in designing modern houses for factory fabrication.

Traditional architecture has been slower to make strides in prefab, but that's changing. The collapse of the housing industry has goosed public demand for cost-effective alternatives to custom design of traditional homes.

Russell has been promoting factory-fabricated traditional homes for years, and his Pennywise House collection includes 22 designs that can be built modularly.

Recently Dwell Magazine, the bible of modern home design, interviewed Russell for his thoughts on the future of factory-fabricated houses:
"In September 2207, we saw the beginning of the end of the old way of making houses. By 2030, we're going to see nearly all houses made to order in factories. There are fewer qualified tradesmen coming along, and young people are less interested in working in the trades. Hand-built houses are going to be far fewer, as they're going to be so expensive, available only to a few at the very highest income level. Factory manufacturing of modular houses by that time is going to be well established, and it'll become exponentially more sophisticated, more efficient, and cheaper to do it. It'll never replace the elegance of something handcrafted, but the economics are going to favor doing it this way."
We applaud the ability of Dwell magazine to stay alive in a world that's increasingly hazardous to the survival of shelter magazines (Cottage Living, Southern Living, Metropolitan Home, Country Living, House & Garden, and Domino, are no longer being published).

And of course, we were happy that Dwell chose to include Russell as a "prefab mover and shaker." A bit surprised, but happy, nonetheless.