Gallery: PREFAB FRIDAY: MkLotus at West Coast Green


Michelle Kauffman, prefab designer extraordinaire, is at it again. Her newest mkLotus design, a zero-energy prefab home with a long list of green features, will debut at next week’s West Coast Green conference in San Francisco with a full-sized showhouse for visitors to ooh-and-aah at to their hearts’ content. The mkLotus features a green roof, LED lighting, green building materials, and the same indoor/outdoor living integration featured in her Glidehouse and Sunset Breezehouse.

Michelle Kauffman is known for her modern, livable, green, air and light-filled prefab designs, and the mkLotus is no exception. The modular construction allows for customization and flexibility, while sliding doors allow residents to open up their house to the elements. We’d tell you all the green materials and systems, but there are just too many to get into great detail. From interior materials like no-VOC paint and EcoResin to EnergyStar appliances, solar panels, and rainwater/greywater systems, the house is a testament to the efficiency, livability, and viability of a green lifestyle and residence. We can’t wait to see the real thing this fall at West Coast Green!

+ Michelle Kauffman
+ West Coast Green


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  1. Top Enviromental News &... November 1, 2007 at 11:03 am

    […] read more | digg story […]

  2. none October 21, 2007 at 10:13 am

    It’s one thing to be opinionated, and it’s one thing to be selfrighteous, but “feministic idealism?” don’t be a dick.

  3. Francis Mundwiller October 14, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    I need a green home for virgin islands?

  4. Michael September 21, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    If you checkout her website, the “hype” of the designs are presented in clean, fairly feministic idealism.
    This is great if its a solution for affordable, wehcih by the anture of the concept being touted, simply isn’t. At her website, they mention “costs” of averages between 200-275 /sq. ft. and upwards for other designs. A, this is not afforadble or even value minded, and B, it simply does not cost this much on average acrosss this country.
    I have custom designed numerous McMansions in the past that cost that but are huge energy sucking monstrosities. Now, I design for sustainabiltity, real no nonsense low energy usage and continuously out perform all LEED qualifications, and check this out Jack- I do it for 150 -200/sq. ft. for very much customized living environements and have produced this type of deliverable for 75-100/sq. ft. Now, we live and work in beautiful Wisconsin, but construction costs are only substantially higher near larger urban places and inn high demand areas. Please consider learning all facts before purchasing designed buildings. And, by the by, please be aware that qualified Architects have educations and capabilities per our licensing that almost always out perform other designers. I should know, I’ve taught High Performance Building Technologies for a while.

  5. Christo September 21, 2007 at 12:28 am

    People… People… PEOPLE!

    Have you no vision? This is an ARTISITS RENDERING, and I can’t fathom someone taking the time, making the SMART choice and then subject their pre-fab to a “trailer-park” like setting. I mean, who’s going to buy a dozen and set ’em up like the Happy Trails Mobile Home Park??? Also, to those who question whether or not the materials used are green… There is significant reference made to use of Low VOC paints, bamboo flooring… caulked and sealed joints for heating and cooling efficiency etc. Awww heck… Lemme just quote the dang website! “We can also use healthy finishes such as non-toxic, low VOC paints and formaldehyde-free cabinetry. Water-saving plumbing fixtures, on-demand water heaters, efficient mechanical ventilation systems, and a photovoltaic system can also be included in your design. Through the use of these and other sustainable design methods, we can work with you to achieve Energy Star and LEED ratings.”

    Maybe I’m more of a fan of this artists expression than most. But being a relative “newbie” to the concept and very idea of “pre-fab” I at the very least took the time to learn about the architect, her vision, and duh…. The homes, designs, and materials used. Before making a reference to this post, might wanna check out the extensive Sunset magazine review on the Glidehouse. It’s quite possibly the coolest thing since sliced bread…

    P.S. Thank you Emily, for calling them as they should be. :-)

  6. Daniel Soler September 19, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Estoy interesado en recibir informacion sobre sus productos y ademas si es posible comercializarlos en Argentina para la Zona del Delta Argentino ,muchas gracias

    Daniel Soler

  7. Michael Mckenzie September 18, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Hi All……….Not the most appealing asthetic…particularly when placed side by side trailer park style as illustrated…looks a bit transformer jaws robot don’t you think?

    I do agree …with Firoz above. KUDOS to you…whoever you are.


  8. Minsk Maz September 17, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Interesting that when you go to the website of a lot of the designers featured on Inhabitat, there’s nothing about materials but you’ll find a lot of fluff about ‘green’. Repeat – nothing about materials used to build Ms. Kauffman’s prefab homes website. This is more than an oversight. Anyone building green cannot get around sharing with their potential consumers exactly how they build green.

  9. art davis September 17, 2007 at 1:04 am

    i cant believe people actually get excited about this! this is the opposite of “green”!
    are they not teaching urban design in architecture schools?!
    in 1985! i did a senior project for urban design at Arizona State U College of Arch. proposing a large, high-rise city occupying approx 10% of 6 sq mi of farm land in western phoenix. it used an innovation in urban design i had created called “contour planning”. the structures mimicked the topography of a narrow mountain ridge and monument valley. all the units were to be pre-fab, loaded into a main structure similar to the contemporary hotel done long ago at disney world. many of the concepts were similar to the “Metabolists” work in Japan. it was all an attempt to start curbing urban sprawl! but as we all know urban sprawl continues to plague this nation. and it is one of the primary “real” causes of our global warming. i went on to design “park models” for resorts for 6 mos. then i finally realized that prefab was a terrible concept! why transport whole houses or parts of them on our already congested highways! ridiculous! try it in LA traffic some day!
    so prefab eliminates local creativity and it promotes even worse urban sprawl! poor little mountain lake gets unundated by park models! really bad idea. change your direction fast!

    islands of thin high rise spires with large areas of new desert agriculture and open space in between…in the desert regions of the earth (most of the rest of the land now available) is the solution!
    it relieves pressure on the fast disappearing “real” green earth.
    high rise, if designed for views and proper scaling of intermediate community spaces, offers a huge psychological relief and inspiration as well. if we’re all cramped into 1 and 2 story mass produced homes with now view out, no way to climb out of the sprawling urban muck, we’ll go crazy!
    everyone thinks that high-rise means the middle of manhattan or “metropolis”. that’s not so.
    and they can be designed to be fully sustainable.


  10. Richie September 15, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Michell Kaufman is a brilliant designer… and in temperate environments, I’m sure this MkLotus design would be great to live in. I think the design would be improved by locating the bedroom and a master bath on a second floor though… with a deck out in front of the master bedroom. You’d have a much nicer view that way.

    What is most dismaying about prefab is that it seems to be expensive. I think a lot of people had hopes that prefab could bring a level of excellent design down to a very low price point.

    This has not yet been the case.(Rocio Romero’s designs come close)

    What about that David Hertz design idea of using foam backed/filled aluminum ‘refrigerator’ panels with some simple frame design that can be snapped and or bolted together ? Would some ‘kit of parts’ like this allow for the inexpensive elegance that prefab has always seemed to promise ?

    I guess the ‘icon’ design has yet to be realized in this regard. Hopefully it will be realized soon ?

  11. Bob Walsh September 15, 2007 at 9:43 am

    While I love this design, are these homes created for a world in which there are no flying insects? How does the designer address this issue, as evening comes and the home fills up with unwanted guests.

  12. Firoz September 15, 2007 at 6:57 am

    The design is quite nice, but the trend is for city living. High-density living is the future of housing across the globe. That’s why it’s hard to get excited by designs like these because they represent housing for a wealthy minority. I hate to sound so harsh and don’t doubt the sincerity or good intentions of the designers, but how many of us can seriously relate our own living situation to a design like this?

    Why are there so few high-density housing examples on inhabitat? High-density housing doesn’t always mean high-rise or skyscraper living. It could mean low-rise apartment blocks or terraced (row) housing.

    I know Ulrike’s comment above is old, but I disagree that identical houses put side by side look “cheap”. There must be dozens, if not hundreds of examples of row or terraced homes that look very appealing.

    Finally, to give some examples of urban housing schemes that have actually been built, here’s a link to homes shortlisted in the UK’s Housing Design Awards 2007. The general quality of new build properties in the UK is pretty appalling, so these homes are sadly not representative of the majority of new housing stock (but they do show what can be achieved and how diverse the designs can be)

    Here are the winners – I particularly like Gun Wharf

  13. Brian September 14, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Seems like a reasonable design for where it´s at at least as far as green goes (what´s with the under-counter mini-fridge though?). If I read the website right, it´s 100% solar aka could be electrically off the grid? This would help explain the steep price-tag, and it is a significant move. I agree with sea wolf though, another great design for the bay area. I´m from Ohio. Wake me when someone has an interesting (green) house design for anyone who lives outside of California or New Mexico.

  14. Emily September 14, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Michael,

    The reason we reposted this “old post,” as you call it, is because the mkLotus is finally debuting next week at West Coast Green, which we’re attending and speaking at next week. And as to your comment on the renderings, these are the only renderings available, because the first ever built prototype of the mkLotus isn’t being shown until West Coast Green. Please read our posts a bit more closely before attacking.

    Managing Editor

  15. Michael September 14, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Another “OLD POST” these trailer-park, pre-fab renderings are from June and or July. I guess there are no other designers out there to submit or pay for their work on Inhabitat. I am somewhat dissapointed this Friday…. Inhabitat usually has NEW and COOL “PRE-FAB FRIDAY’s” hopefully next week they can rebound?

  16. sea wolf September 14, 2007 at 9:06 am

    Another smart design from MK. Those of us looking in from around the country, bear in mind, in the Bay Area, the temperature stays stays mostly between 50F and 75F, year round, with minimal humidity. So zero energy is much, much easier to achieve than in New Jersey, say, where you confront hazy, hot, humid days in the high 80s and 90s for most of summer and then cold, cloudy days in the teens up into the 30s and low 40s in the winter. We won’t even mention the heat of Louisiana or the cold of Minnesota. But rock on. We need more houses like the mKLotus . . . and more events like West Coast Green.

  17. Nvane September 14, 2007 at 6:41 am

    The design looks great, house look yet simple yet attractive, but I agree with Markus and Ulrike, that some variation would make them look better, since by now…the uniqueness is going somewhere.

  18. Tommy E Grant August 14, 2007 at 10:36 am

    can you send any information about this house or firm in general 761 faircrest drive buda tx 78610

  19. dia scholvinck July 23, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    I am surprised that none of these prefab green architects does not wish to hop on the potentially very lucrative design of a prefab penthouse for NYC. Why is that? dia

  20. The Revolution Corporation July 22, 2007 at 10:52 am

    i agree that this appears to be just another expensive trailer home from a too familiar name brand…
    a green trailer home, though. at least there’s *that* comfort for those who can afford it.
    there’s a lot of interesting stuff coming up at the end of 2007 & early ’08 from a few unknowns, though… so keep a lookout for the new breed of modular. interesting single-family, two-family, & multi-family modular projects on the horizon in Mississippi, North Carolina, Washington, DC, & Pennsylvania.

  21. Emperor July 22, 2007 at 5:41 am

    i really have to agree with Markus on this. I think when it comes to prefab houses what you’re really paying for is the design and not the actual home. For the price they’re asking I don’t see any real benefits of buying this home.

  22. Modern Homes New Englan... July 20, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    […] mkLotus: Looks like it would be a nice model for a New England […]

  23. Markus July 20, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    If you look on Michelle Kauffman’s website, you can find estimates of $200-$275/sq.ft which make this 672sq.ft house go from $135K – $185K before you even have a site/utilities/transportation of the prefab. To me that is way too high. I feel like I’m paying for the brand name more than the product.

    Personally, I love Kauffman’s designs (especially the Sunset Breezehouse) but living in Atlanta makes getting one of these houses impossible. Honestly, the only hope I have of having one of these houses is getting someone local to create something similar for a fraction of the price…

    @Ulrike: I agree. I hate cookie cutter neighborhoods. If Kauffman wants to push her houses that way she should make more design variations.

  24. Ulrike July 20, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Any time you put several identical houses side by side, the design starts to look “cheap”, whether they’re townhomes, trailers or prefabs.

  25. Osi Okonkwo July 20, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Micheal V. I understand your frustration but I think the reason why this pre-fab and many others look like “glorified trailer” houses is because that is the only way to make it affordable. The truth still remains that the Pre-fab industry still has not answered the heavy hitting costs of home construction such as foundation costs or pull in of utilities or the labor.

    I might be wrong but it seems to me that pre-fab can not really pre-fab, i think prefab is architects retailing their less pricey designs to end users. Now that is not a bad thing, but aesthetically pleasing designs like this one if megasized to the average American Home Size would cost an arm and a leg and your 401K.

  26. Michael V. July 20, 2007 at 10:48 am

    These renderings look like “glorified trailers parks”. I have seen nicer trailer parks in Georgia. Is there anyone else in America creating prefab housing other than: Michelle Kauffman, Ray Kappe, and Resolution: 4 Architecture? Please somebody, anybody show me something new, fresh and or inspiring…

  27. Osi Okonkwo July 20, 2007 at 9:14 am

    This looks very good. It however leads me to ask the question of how much would this cost? How prefab is it? Will it be shipped in pieces and so on?

    All in all I really like it. Awesome design.

  28. Ashley July 20, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Hey this is going to debut at west coast green! That’s where I discovered inhabitat and it is an amazing conference. Hope to see you two there this year as well!

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