Earlier this summer, Inhabitat got a chance to catch up with M Design’s eco-prefab architect Mark Baez in lovely Venice, CA when he gave us a personal tour of his M Cube home – the minimalist, modular, sustainable, and surprisingly affordable prefab residential development that he designed using his patented prefab modular building system. Designed based on traditional Japanese tatami and imperial units of measurement, M Cube may appear spartan at first glance but proves deceivingly comfortable once inside.
The building system is simple. Each steel-beamed shell is sheathed in a curtain wall system of insulated fiberglass panels framed in anodized aluminum. These panels can be opened like windows, allowing for natural ventilation and tons of light. One day, solar panels will be installed on the roof to provide the building’s energy (once issues related to height restrictions are resolved.) The stackable cube system can be built in 90 days (on a flat site) for approximately $100 per square foot, making M Cube one of the most reasonably priced prefabs currently available on the market.
Inside, featherweight fiberglass panels slide on tracks. These modern industrial versions of shoji screens can be used to carve up the interior space, forming bedrooms, alcoves, or open living space. The only spaces that are non-changeable are the bathrooms and kitchens. The bathrooms feature three sunken ‘tubs’; sink in the central tub, loo in the other, and tub and shower in the third.
Despite being very raw and simple at first glance, M Cube’s industrial take on modern living does not lack warmth. The concrete floors are, literally, quite warm and something about the space feels naturally comfortable, perhaps due to Baez’s strict formula for human scale and proportion. People seem to like living and working in the Cube, as evidenced by the fact that all the units are currently spoken for.
If you like the Cube, then keep an eye out for the next M Design project. Baez mentioned that he is hoping to apply his modular building space for commercial uses in the future. These smart and sustainable prefabs would make great affordable housing units or college dorms as well, if people prove willing to think outside the box and open to living in one.