The next generation of architects at Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture recently completed work on an eye-catching modular home that showcases the possibilities of simple, modern living.
Built on the grounds of the school’s Taliesin West campus in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Mod.Fab house offers 600 square feet of modern aesthetics that integrate indoor and outdoor space. The project, offering a size and layout similar to that of a one-bedroom apartment, includes a great room, galley kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, along with a breezeway and terrace.
The home brings the school’s existing Shelter program, in which students build freestanding, one-person structures on campus, to a broader audience. “Everyone talks about living simply and living smaller,” says the school’s dean Victor Sidy. “We wanted to give that idea a form.”
Sidy says one of the guiding principles of the project was the notion of eliminating the insignificant. Students studied the way people live and how materials come together, evaluating what could be eliminated and what could become more multifunctional. The effort helped trim more than 250 square feet from the house’s original design.
Part of the reduction came from finding products and design elements that serve a dual purpose. The central breezeway, for example, replaces the typical grand foyer entrance while offering a deeper connection and expansion into the outdoors. Windows visually expand the 2-foot-square bedroom.
The structure’s steel chassis makes the house road-worthy for transport, but also allows for the cantilever design and permits the house to sit on only six points for easier adaptation on uneven sites. The slight roof slope brought on by varying ceiling heights in the living room and the bedroom also creates just a single point of rainwater collection. The home’s solar wall is situated to provide privacy to the bedroom.
The home is designed for use on or off the grid. In addition to rainwater harvesting and photovoltaics, eco-friendly touches include low-flow fixtures, a greywater system, LED lighting, and a tankless water heater.
The structure of the house was crafted with structural insulated panels along with other conventional techniques and products. “That was important for us because so often we see prototypes and they have been built in a lab,” Sidy says. “This can be built in a factory or on site.”
Mod.Fab currently is being used to house the school’s visiting faculty and lecturers. The school is hoping to license the design to a modular housing manufacturer. Sidy says the target price to build one of the homes would be about $100,000.
“If you design something simply,” Sidy says, “you can have high quality without exorbitant cost.”