Decoding Design

Texas architecture firm designs prefab, LEED certified homes

Texas architecture firm designs prefab, LEED certified homes

Posting in Architecture

Designed by San Antonio based Lake|Flato, the Porch House is a new hybrid of prefabricated, modular, and custom.

A composite of custom and prefabricated, the Porch Houses designed by Lake|Flato are site specific and LEED certified.

The firm's Porch House concept combines factory-built room modules with custom, site-built outdoor elements (porches, breezeways, carports, and terraces), all called porches. Integrating LEED certification elements (e.g. high efficiency mechanical systems, water saving features, natural ventilation, low embodied energy materials, daylighting, energy efficient lighting) into the prefabricated modular pieces ensures that each Porch House will be LEED certified. The homes can also achieve net zero energy consumption with the addition of optional photovoltaic panels.

Prefabricated, modular systems also encourage energy efficiency in the building process. Installing finishes and mechanical systems in a controlled environment allows for consistency, quality control, reduced material waste, and limited labor and transportation during construction.

The Porch House components include nine individual living or sleeping module types. All modules are a standard width of 17 feet and standard height of 10 feet. The lengths vary according to the room types. Since the widths are standardized, the modules can be easily aligned or stacked for various configurations. The custom porch spaces provide shade, cross ventilation, and connections with the outdoors; all critical factors to the design's sustainable strategy.

Delivered in about six to nine months after design approval, the modular rooms leave the factory 80 to 90 percent complete. Once on site the structures are ready for roofs and utilities and any exterior spaces to be installed. Construction costs range from $150 to $225 per square foot.

According to Lake|Flato, the mixture of custom and prefabricated pieces creates site specific homes that provide 'unique solutions with a predictable outcome' and fulfill the firm's ultimate goals of simplicity, beauty, and sustainability.

Images: Lake|Flato

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure