Ready-Made Residences: 14 Ultra Cool Prefab Homes

Prefabricated homes are increasingly popular for a variety of reasons, among them the relatively quick build time, the ecological advantages, and the flexibility they can provide across a range of budgets. As more and more people turn to this means of building a home, the results become more elaborate and unusual. Architects and designers work within this method’s constraints and make the most of its freedoms to create dwelling solutions suited for many different settings and functions: vacation homes in warm environments, primary residences in suburban areas, and cabin retreats in the woods. The following examples all make use of prefab construction either through modules, components, or whole structures—and they’re all places we wouldn’t mind calling home.

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  1. Hardanger Retreat


    Another prefab that defies stereotypes is the uniquely shaped Hardanger Retreat by Todd Saunders and Tommie Wilhelmsen. The 215-square-foot cabin is located on a scenic fjord in Norway. A large outdoor area surrounding the tiny house effectively doubles the space in the summer.

  2. Vacation House


    Lined with cedar and prefab concrete panels, this Long Island vacation home by Bates Masi was meant to feel like one screened-in porch; floor-to-ceiling windows get the job done.

  3. The Standard House


    Another atypical prefab is this silo-shaped residence in Poland, designed by the architectural firm KWK Promes. Homeowners can customize the two-story structure’s interior, building as many or as few rooms as they like.

  4. Floating House


    Designed by Chilean firm Sabbagh Arquitectos, this house is larger than your typical prefab and acclimated to a highly unusual location—floating in the water. The prefab modules were made from shipping container material. Concrete slabs were used in the home's lower reaches, while metal used in higher areas lightens the load up top.

  5. GO Logic Home


    The GO Home, by Maine architect Matthew O’Malia, isn’t just prefab—it’s a passive home, a tightly insulated structure that harnesses passive-solar gain to provide much of its interior heat requirements. The barn-shaped house makes use of large windows to capture as much natural sunlight and warmth as possible.

  6. The American House


    At first glance, the American House, by architect William Massie, looks like a midcentury modern home straight out of Palm Springs. Actually located in Michigan, this structure consists of a prefab steel frame with manufactured structural panels. Expanses of glass unite the interior with its surroundings and include a skylight over the shower, which opens for ventilation.

  7. Taliesin Mod Prefab


    This student-designed-and-built prefab takes its inspiration from famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Its versatility allows it to be used on or off the grid. The prototype now serves as a guesthouse.

  8. Plus House


    The two-story Plus House, from Swedish firm Arkitekthus, defies the typical prefab look. The barn-like home’s wood paneling exterior has a rustic feel, while the use of windows and clean lines ensures that the structure is decidedly modern.

  9. Fairy-Tale Prefab


    While most people think of prefabs as modern structures full of right angles and straight lines, this take on the prefab by Swedish architect Torsten Ottesjö tells quite a different story. The fairy-tale teardrop-shaped home mimics the contours of a popular fish in the region.

  10. weeHouse


    Alchemy Architects, of Minnesota, have built several versions of their weeHouse, but this one appeals to us because of its woody location, large size, and an outdoor patio bridge on the upper level that connects the separate wings.

  11. Prefab Log Cabin


    This modern-day log cabin by French architectural firm OLGGA is actually broken apart into separate buildings, one housing the living areas and the other containing the bathroom. The enclosed ends resemble the cross section of a stack of logs; the window allows a view inside at the unique application of logs to the interior.

  12. Zufferey Home


    Seeming to emerge from the earth, the Zufferey House by Nunatak Sarl Architects, of Switzerland, uses a typical prefab modular shape in a way that makes it anything but common. The varied window shapes, sizes, and locations add to the home’s whimsy.

  13. Glenburn House


    The Glenburn House by Australian architect Sean Godsell also appears to rise up from its surroundings. The long rectangular shape is centered in a valley between two small hills. While the siting is aesthetically pleasing, it also protects the house from weather and intense summer sun.

  14. Kip House


    The Kip House by 3XN encourages a strong dialogue between exterior and interior; one side is completely open to the outdoors with floor-to-ceiling windows. The black-clad exterior makes the house stand out in its surroundings.

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