2018 Design Award for Residential Efficient Design: KAA Design

Like many architects, I think about solving the housing crisis,” says Grant Kirkpatrick, founding partner at KAA Design in Los Angeles. His idea: Make prefab housing easier and greener. To do it, he looked to a sector not known for high style: mobile homes. “Prefab housing requires a big build-out and assembly on-site. But the mobile home industry has that figured out. They make their product in a factory and then truck it to the location,” says Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick’s plan involves marrying the ease of a mobile home with good design and green concepts. Working with manufacturer Silvercrest, the KAA team started creating a new version of a manufactured home. They began with the standard measurements of a trailer: 14 feet 3 inches wide, 12 feet 9 inches high and 78 feet long. “This is the largest structure that can be legally hauled on a highway, and the largest that can be easily factory made,” says Kirkpatrick. “Because of the size, we have it 95 percent assembled before it’s placed on-site.”

Although the measurements are standard, the design isn’t. “We created it to be glass-lined in the middle,” says Kirkpatrick. “That makes it feel much larger than it actually is.” What’s more, this is a dwelling that’s prewired to hook up to a solar system, contains many energy-saving features, and is outfitted with elegant, earth-friendly finishes. “Ninety-eight percent of the people who buy mobile homes do so because it’s an inexpen- sive choice, not because of style or quality,” says Kirkpatrick. “This is for a new audience.”

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