Architect and designer Michelle Kaufmann has always been interested in producing smarter ways for living and building. An admiration for the ground and a craving for smart invention is at the forefront of her remarkable architectural career.

To many, the Oakland-based architect is considered to be the pioneer of the motion of prefabricated green homes in the United States. Kaufmann believes that today everybody wants to live an eco friendly life — it is about whether the designs that are available make green living cheap and easy. In the United States’ construction industry, this is among the primary problems with prefabricated homes. Though a number of these homes offer you a greener lifestyle in the long term, their building cost is presently exactly the same as a site-built house. For many consumers, there’s no incentive to try out a modular residence.

Kaufmann considers that although there’s a significant learning curve in prefab buildings nowadays, the building industry has the capacity to create smart and advanced homes, so long as architects and factories learn to collaborate. Lots of Kaufmann’s custom prefabricated homes — like this beautiful house in Santa Barbara, Calif. — are fantastic examples of this potential that prefab structure has, and the way this industry can revolutionize green living. Keep reading to get Kaufmann’s insight on a topic that stays confusing for many customers today.

More: What’s Up With Prefab?

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

This Santa Barbara house was constructed for an artistic bunch who grew to become great friends of Kaufmann’s through this undertaking. Their main priority was building a green house, but prefab was not on the menu initially. As Kaufmann continued to work with the family and their vision for your house, a prefabricated house became the most effective possible way to produce their must-haves happen.

Kaufmann designed a habit, three bedroom-plus-studio for your household, incorporating eco-friendly methods throughout the entire practice. By way of instance, rather than demolishing their original home the family opted to have the structure taken apart by hand, and as many bits as possible were salvaged.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

VB: Why did this household opt to get a prefab house?

MK: Well, they actually didn’t need a prefab house per se. Mainly they wanted a really well-designed house that resides lightly on the ground, collaborates with the surroundings, and had too many outdoor rooms as indoor rooms. They contacted me mainly for its design aesthetic, and the prefabrication was just a means to an end.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

VB: What needs did they have for this house? Was it difficult to fulfill those requirements with the limitations of a pre-fab?

MK: Prefabrication wasn’t difficult for fulfilling the demands. We designed the modules to cancel from one another as a way to create an H-shape program and two courtyards the house connects with. The border between the interior and exterior will also be obscured through NanaWall glass doors that allow the house to open up completely into the gardens.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

MK: The design procedure was interesting. The website is in downtown Santa Barbara, which has a strong historic fabric. We wanted to respect that fabric, but still possess the house be modern. We developed a modern interpretation of this Mission-style clay roofs throughout the corrugated Corten steel siding on the outside walls.

The velvety finish and texture is quite similar to the tile roofs in colour and scale, and we emphasized with a salvaged Ipe wood to get a natural and warm look.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

VB: Were there some compromises in this project because of the building procedure?

MK: Nothing! Even though the modules have maximum measurements based on what could go down the road, they essentially are like lego blocks you could put together to create broad spaces, and pile them to get multiple stories. You are able to make just about any configuration you can imagine.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

VB: Why should people think about prefab if it costs as much as a site-built house?

MK: There are so many advantages to using off-site technology for building. Because of precision cutting and storage capability, modular structure can reach 50 to 75 percent less waste than site-built structure — with a greater degree of quality control and substantially less carbon emissions. Because the building happens in a controlled factory environment, the problems with mildew and moisture that can occur with site-built construction [vulnerable to rain or snow] won’t happen.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

VB: How can a pre-fab house be more eco-friendly than a site built house?

MK: Now do not get me wrong, not all of factories/companies build the very best manner, but the ones that do (such as Blazer Industries in Oregon, by way of example) create homes that are so far better, in half the time, with 50 to 75 percent less waste, and less carbon emissions. With the right design, the green technology can be pre-packaged, and you can end up with a house that creates its own energy, utilizes one-third the water and is made out of healthful finishes and systems. You can end up with a house where you have lower energy bills, lower water bills, and many years of a healthy environment for you and your loved ones.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

MK: One of the main reasons I have been so dedicated to off-site technology exploration is that we need green homes to be available to everybody! If green homes are only available to a few elite, we’re never going to arrive. It’s no longer a matter of if folks want a sustainable house or not. They do. However, the green homes can’t cost anymore than a non-green home, can’t take any more time, and have to be easy. These are the three chief aspects our work at Michelle Kaufmann Studio is hoping to handle. And off-site technology helps with this.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

VB: Do you think there are aspects of prefab homes that make them better investments than site-built homes?

MK: When you build a house that goes down the road, you have to allow it to be super solid. It essentially goes through the worst earthquake of its life before it gets to the website, thus we must design them to become really strong. This means you have a sturdy home that will last you a lifetime.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

VB: How do you think that the European prefab market differs in the US pre-fab marketplace, and why?

MK: In places like Japan and Sweden, they’re so far ahead of us in using innovation and technology in building as a way to bring good design to the masses. In countries like these, if you’re doing a luxury home, you need it assembled in a controlled environment with precision cutting and higher quality control, so you have it constructed in a mill. In the united states, we’re decades behind them, mostly due to a misconception that prefabrication is insufficient since people get all kinds of prefab confused with trailer homes. Trailer homes are”manufactured,” which is very different than”modular”

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

MK: Manufactured signifies that some thing is created to a HUD code and is not typically considered property and requires particular zoning. Modular, however, is constructed to site-built code, but still made at a controlled environment. Modular is deemed property and is assessed against another customized house (website built or anything ), therefore modular and manufactured are very, very distinct.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

VB: Why would you think there’s such a significant learning curve at the prefab industry?

MK: The men and women who’ve been operating in the factories for decades possess the understanding of technology, but they have been focusing on a high-volume, low-margin business design which requires repetition and volume. So far, many in the U.S. are doing low-quality layout. However, they have the capacity to do thoughtful layout with smart systems and materials.

Michelle Kaufmann Studio

MK: But it’s important that we as architects make certain to comprehend the mill procedure and experience it, therefore the designs maximize the efficiencies out of the production process, as opposed to attempt to force the factory to build something we’ve produced that might not have anything to do with the fabrication procedure. The best results are from a true collaboration between the architects and the mill gurus. The terrific thing about us being so far behind in the U.S. is the fact that it’s an extremely exciting time for us to innovate. There is so much room for advancement, and as performers, these are the places we want to work in — the ones where we could make a huge difference.

More thoughts:
What’s Up With Prefab?
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