20X20 Prefab
Vancouver, BC, or anywhere
400 SF
2009

 

DESIGN
This prefabricated house for one or two occupants is perceptually spacious, yet extremely compact. The total footprint of the house on its site is 400 SF, with 400 SF of interior space on two levels. The proposed design is a superior alternative to a studio apartment or single level house, where 400 SF is conventionally laid out as a single-room space. The intent for the proposed design is to create a space for two co-habitants to bathe, eat, sleep and entertain guests in, while also creating two work areas for both occupants to either work or study in. The house is intended to be sited on the lane behind an existing house, in established neighbourhoods. A canted wood screen masks the house's airy and private courtyard space, and doubles as a security fence. All interior spaces relate back to this space; the main level's interior living spaces feel like an extension of the outdoor space, reinforced by installing the same flooring inside and out.

Most spaces have operable components for overlapping uses. The sofa is a guest bed, the entry hallway is the smaller office, the kitchen has a fold-down counter behind the TV, the bathroom is the shower, and the upper bedroom's mattress folds up when a desk folds down, creating the larger second office. To maintain privacy between the prefabricated house the adjoining house, a second screen hides an outdoor area that increases the apparent spaciousness of the second level bedroom/office area. A double height light-well admits light deep into the lower level seating nook, as it also admits ambient light into the bathroom.

Horizontal windows that are not filtered by screens can be outfitted with a frosted film, for complete privacy on all sides, to suit any siting condition. The canted dormer-like volumes that fall outside the house's defined floor area provide voluminous storage space. Additionally, all available voids in the seating and stair are designated as storage compartments, collectively creating 300 cubic feet of storage.

VARIATIONS
Removing the optional wooden screens completely changes the experience of the house, if it was located in a setting that is already private or does not have security issues. Whether the house is installed in suburban, rural or wilderness locations, the main and second level outdoor spaces that were private and defined in size become porous and expansive, operating as thresholds to surrounding yard or landscape.

PREFABRICATION
The entire building is constructed of structural insulated panels (SIPS), with interior and exterior finishes already attached to each panel. Each panel would be delivered to site in modules that can be handled by two people, without cranes. The connection points are expressed as metal clad reveals, a straightforward architectonic expression of the house's prefabricated panels and assembly sequence. To reduce labour costs, this small building is installed on simple perimeter of four concrete grade beams, installed as precast units. Wiring and plumbing chases are pre-cut from the panels. Structural, mechanical and electrical connections would take two people five days to complete. This house has the option of being completely pre-built in a factory setting, delivered to its site by truck, then installed with a medium sized crane that can maneuver Vancouver's typical 20 foot wide lanes.