Two fresh, bold green design/building projects to report on today. I’ll start with the little guy.

Yesterday, Design Boom shared images of the “Shed for Living,” a cozy crib from Manchester, UK-based FKDA Architects. The Shed — available in 13- or 24-square-meter sizes — was designed to achieve zero-carbon status. However, it's suggested that the super petite home is just as influenced by economics as it is energy efficiency:

"The idea of creating such a tiny living environment came from growing reports of people being forced out of their homes unable to make mortgage payments, and turning to living with family, in garden sheds and even in cars."
In addition to use as an affordable (£20-35,000 for small and £35-50,000 for big) micro-home, the Shed’s appealing versatility allows it be used as a vacation home, home gym, guesthouse, student accommodation, “granny annex,” and more. It’s whatever you wish. It reminds me of a trick-out kid’s playhouse for adults.

In terms of construction, the Shed can be prefabricated and delivered by biodiesel truck or it can be delivered in bits and pieces and erected on site by DIY builders. Giving its Brit origins, FKDA is happy to take on bespoke Shed structures. Green features include FSC-certified timber framed walls, recycled newspaper-based cellulose insulation, LED/low-energy lighting, no-VOC paints, double-glazed windows, and optional, renewable energy features like photovoltaic panels that can help the structure achieve zero carbon status. Heat is provided via electric underfloor heating or an optional wood-burning stove.

And the Shed is not just an exercise in cutesy-cramped … its efficient design allows for storage ample space thanks to a unique “inner sleeve.”

Obviously not for the claustrophobic or for families of four, I still dig the Shed’s clever versatility, efficient design, and affordability.  

In other green building news, Poland-born, NYC-based Daniel Libeskind — the architect behind countless museums, a couple of malls, and the reconstructed World Trade Center site — is trying his big, brash hand at residential prefab. Just as modern prefab pioneer Michelle Kaufmann’s recent departure caused tremors in the prefab community, Libeskind’s entrance is also a big deal. 
But will Libeskind’s design, a 515-square-meter (5,500 square-foot) prefabricated “villa” selling for between $2.8 million and $4.2 million, be taken seriously?

It’s hard to say. First off, Proportion, the Berlin-based company marketing and distributing Libeskind's villa is reluctant to say it technically is prefab. While much of the home is manufactured off-site, it also requires months of assembling at the building site. And according to The New York Times, it seems that the villa be marketed more as “a piece of art” than a green prefab. Over at TreeHugger, Lloyd Alter is branding the project as part of modern prefab's slow death (Michelle Kaufmann's exit being another). 

Libeskind’s villa will boast four bedrooms and four bathrooms along with a wine cellar, a stainless steel spiral staircase, a fireplace room, a sauna, and a solar thermal system. According to Libeskind's website, there will be a focus on emerging technology and compliance with energy-saving standards. While many modern prefab projects emphasize restraint in size and design and instead focus on efficiency and affordability, this distinctly high-design throws restraint out the window. 

I'm hoping that there’s room for both the huge-ish/high-end and  the modest/micro in the growing prefab market but I do worry the former runs the risk as being tagged a novelty no matter how serious the architect attached. However, Proportion is confident that moneyed buyers will bite, especially with Libeskind involved. In fact, the company plans on producing more unique homes designed by marquee-name architects.

A prototype of Libeskind’s prefab villa is currently being built in Datteln, Germany; sales are expected to start this summer and the home will be available worldwide. This is only Libeskind's third residential project in his decades-long career. 

Via [Design Boom] and [NYT]

Images: FDKA Architects, Studio Daniel Libeskind

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

A prefab palace and a lilliputian pied-à-terre
Two attention-grabbing home designs: Daniel Libeskind's prefab villa and a pint-sized "Shed for Living" from the UK.