the way we live

photo friday: constructivism


here’s a picture i took at a job site in suburban chicagoland about two years ago.  what struck me about the scene was how honest the conversation seemed to be.   though one the best parts may be the maersk sealand shipping container in the background.

30 November 2007 Posted by | architecture, photo, society | Leave a comment

lab zero


slowly stumbling out of my turkey coma today still stiff from friday’s ninth annual turkey bowl i found a post over on bldgblog, one of my favorite blogs, on a topic near and dear to me: flexible architecture.  as i’ve been discussing recently, notions of flexible architecture are at the heart of my thesis project and yesterday’s bldgblog post talks about the ubiquitous shipping container architecture that seems to be popping up everywhere, specifically a fascinating design firm and proposals from lab zero.  mr. manaugh appropriately discusses the current critique with such projects and i think he hits the nail on the head with his assessment that people view these proposals in light of two factors: comfort and universality.  but mr. manaugh refutes this analysis, as would i, saying:

“what i think is, actually, the point of reusing shipping containers as architecture is: 1) when you can, you should reuse existing materials for somewhat obvious environmental reasons, and 2) the spatial, logical, and combinatorial systems that cargo containers imply are simply awesome.”

i couldn’t agree more, it is actually about prefabricated reuse of materials and the spatial synthesis of the way we live.  if you have a few minutes i would head over to bldgblog and read the full post including the wonderful projects by lab zero highlighted throughout (partially pictured above).

25 November 2007 Posted by | architecture, prefab, society, thesis | Leave a comment

the all terrain cabin


this afternoon one of my favorite blogs, architechnophilia, had a post about this great prefab. called the all terrain cabin, or atc for short, this prefab is built on the ubiquitous standard shipping container platform. what sets this design apart from the rest is its attention to sustainability. according to bark’s website, the nonprofit design firm of the atc,

  • “the atc is designed to travel by train, truck, ship, plane, or helicopter. it can literally go anywhere – and it is self contained: a generator running on biodiesel is included and an “inverter” changes dc into ac. the atc operates off the grid. plumbing is similarly environmentally friendly – filtering and re-use of grey water, composting toilet, tanks of fresh water, rain collection, etc.”


once the unit has arrived on site, the walls simply fold down and effectively triple the prefab’s livable area. no water, waste piping, external power, or other hook-ups are necessary. built to house a family of four, the atc is an ingenious, sustainable, and efficient prefab.  did i mention it looks great too?  currently the atc is in vancouver on tour throughout canada. check out bark’s website for more photos including additional interior shots.


2 April 2007 Posted by | architecture, green, prefab | 2 Comments

zenkaya prefab


here’s another great prefab to add to the list: the zenkaya original. zenkaya is a company out of south africa manufacturing stunningly good-looking prefab houses. their houses range from 20.4 sq. meter studio units to 61.2 sq. meter two-bedroom units and are reasonably priced. each is 100% manufactured in their warehouse unlike other prefabs in which units or pieces are manufactured off-site and shipped to site for assembly. their process means there is zero waste from construction on-site, everything can be assembled according to very tight tolerances, and they have more control over materials being used. each prefab is shipped to site like a trailer (similar to the shipping container prefabs you will see). the materials zenkaya uses are all sustainable in nature including the sustainably harvested cedar wood. they ship 2-12 weeks after ordering. order yours today.


15 February 2007 Posted by | architecture, green, prefab | Leave a comment