I was wondering aloud the other day why modern-style pre-fab houses don't seem to be as popular a choice for people embarking on new residential construction as I would expect. The concept of Pre-Fab is sound – components of the house are manufactured at one location (in a factory, assembly-line style) which cuts down dramatically the amount of costly on-site construction. Because the components arrive at the site pretty much ready for assembly into a structure, there is supposedly less wasted material – stuff isn't being trucked into the site, most of it used, and whatever isn't used is tossed. They are designed to be energy-efficient, and seem to be perfectly suited to accepting solar panels - some even come with that as one of the many options for customizing. Also, they're perfect for those who can't bear to wait a year or so for traditional construction. After the sitework is done, you can watch your new home go up in something like 3 days! Another compelling reason to consider pre-fab: most of them are just plain cute!
Maybe people unaware that pre-fabricated houses are an option to be considered, or perhaps when they hear "pre-fab" still think "trailer park"? Maybe they assume they are allowed no choices to personalize their home?
Whatever it could be, there will be lots to be learned when The Museum of Modern Art begins assembling 5 pre-fab dwellings in a vacant lot next to it, on West 53rd Street, NYC. The show, called "Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling", opens on July 20, but house parts begin to arrive late May, early June. The delivering and assembling of the houses are important parts of the exhibition and will be completely viewable to passers-by. This article in today's New York Times says that, beginning mid-March, the architects of each house will record progress the fabrication through completion on a blog at MoMA's website. The houses will be accessible to visitors when the exhibition opens in July.
Although I'm disappointed that neither of these prominent pre-fab architects - Rocio Romero and Michelle Kaufmann - made it into the chosen 5 (from a starting pool of 400 architects!). They are favorites of mine and I hope they are well represented in the exhibition inside the museum. – GF