Gallery: PREFAB FRIDAY: The Rapson Greenbelt


Modernist architect Ralph Rapson has managed this to reinterpret a 60-year old design with the green panache of a 21st century prefab. The Rapson Greenbelt, an articulate series of prefab dwellings, is derived from a 1945 design called Case Study #4, which debuted back then as part of Arts & Architecture’s Case Study House Program. Today, the Rapson Greenbelt is part of the modern home portfolio from WIELER, the award-winning providers of custom prefab homes.

The Greenbelt got its name from the distinct interior glass atrium that appeared in the original 1,800 sq ft design. The 21st century Greenbelt is available in seven configurations ranging from 576 to 2,660 square feet. Our favorite is Greenbelt 1, the design that most closely reflects the intention of the original.

Greenbelt 1 evolves around the central glass atrium that distinguished Rapson’s vision in the 1940s. The space is now designed finished and part of the exquisite living experience providing unobstructed, light-filled areas for work and play. At 1,560 sq ft, this version offers up to 3 bedrooms, one that can serve as a home office with its own private entrance.

Like the original, Greenbelt 1 is a passive solar design that optimizes natural heating & cooling and utilizes natural daylight. Front and back decks and indoor/outdoor fireplaces play with the divisions of indoor and outdoor space – a theme that has persisted in Rapson’s work over the decades. Readily available in the Eastern US, the Rapson Greenbelt is an extraordinary study in modern green modular that stands the test of time.

+ Ralph Rapson and Associates


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  1. Inhabitat » PREFA... April 11, 2008 at 5:22 am

    […] tucked strategically into the building’s form. The design flows through spacious indoor and outdoor living spaces that appear to bring a new perspective to the surrounding forest setting at every […]

  2. Scratch March 31, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    I did build the Greenhouse that was shown. The homeowner bought the plans from Weiler who, I believe, shares the fees with the Rapson office and also received some consulting from Toby and Ralph. The house shown could have been built as a prefabricated modular unit house but instead it was built with prefabricated concrete panels, basement and first floor. Second floor was site built. The interior design was done by the homeowner and that in and of itself compliments the Rapson architecture. If you are interested in learning more about what can be done with different systems, see my modular web site at MasterPlan

  3. Zaha Hadid Reintreprets... March 18, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    […] a public courtyard is overlooked by a spiraling semi-circular atrium that helps with the diffusion of natural light throughout the building and into the court […]

  4. BEN March 13, 2008 at 7:46 pm


  5. some guy March 11, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    The house looks great. Like the author of this article, I also like the Greenbelt 1 the best, and would really like to see some version of it built – it would be interesting to see an unbuilt Case Study House get constructed more than 60 years later.

    I don’t know why some people want to complain about prefab houses being boxy. The Greenbelt series was designed for manufacture by the modular housing industry, and that industry is set up to build boxy houses. It’s just an attempt by one company to take advantage of existing infrastructure and make Modern-influenced design more available to the general public. If you’re not ok with that, you don’t have to buy one.

    This particular house was actually built on site – NOT prefabricated – so it’s a bit misleading to call it a prefab. Fair enough, the system is designed as a prefab system… but this house was built with concrete panels and typical stud framing.

    More info (and more photos):

  6. djfred February 24, 2008 at 2:18 am

    This has always been my favorite of the original Dwell competition entries and I was relieved to see Wieler pick it up. The design dates back to the 50’s.

  7. Josh February 23, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    These look very nice-that’s as far as general design can take it. However it still resembles the 1970’s expandable units from Italy, It’s 100% Tailer Park. I initially thought all these prefabricated units that fit onto he back of a 54′ was the greatest solution for affordable living in our already massive and significantly growing suburbia’s. I’m in no position to start eliminating solutions however this site is dedicated to posting innovative solutions. What’s innovative this week?

    Why not find some TRULY novel projects.

    Hope to see some changes, love the site. Oh and what about adding RSS feed’s??? Something I’m new to,


  8. melanie February 22, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    i’d love to see photos of wieler’s greenbelt piloti, it’s like a prefab treehouse-type design with a smaller footprint. and does anyone know who designed the weiler logo? it’s very paul rand.

  9. oakling February 22, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Big thumbs up for blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors. That is one of my favorite things in buildings… as long as it is warm enough inside :) I enjoy reading about all these prefab ecobuildings, because I had no idea so many were available before I started reading this blog! All I knew was that occasionally the Chronicle would mention one, or mention a show featuring several, and make a big, big, big deal about it that implied there were very few of these available. So this is refreshing to me.

  10. urbanmike February 22, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I’m with Pink Robe (not literally) on this one, do they ship to Canada. This would look great on a small plot of mountain land…

  11. Pink Robe February 22, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Very nice use of space and light in the Greenbelt, and they ship to Canada…

  12. jared February 22, 2008 at 11:17 am

    weeks, where is yours?

    do it.

  13. Richard Weeks February 22, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Oh look, yet another rectangular box.

    ANYONE can slap a few boards together and call it a prefab.

    The more I read Inhabitat, the more I yearn for the articles of yesteryear.

    P.s. And stop posting pictures of 3D models. If someone hasn’t bought one, had it stuck on their plot of land and is living in it, it’s not a prefab.

  14. Hugo February 22, 2008 at 4:28 am

    Wow, I am very inpressed, Wielers portfolio realy shows some great designs. It is a pity that this kind of building technique (catalogue prefab buildings) are not very common in the Netherlands. Anyway, I like the complete Greenbelt line. They made some realy nice variations on the original.

    I think Wieler is not one of the cheapest, though.

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