Emily Pilloton

PREFAB FRIDAY: WIRED Living Home

by , 07/06/07

Wired living home, Living Homes, LivingHomes, Steve Glenn, Ray Kappe, Green prefab, prefab housing, prefab house

Preparing for its big debut in Los Angeles this fall, the WIRED Living Home is making quite a splash. We’ve written about Steve Glenn’s Living Homes prefab company before, and touted the houses’ green design innovations by renown architect Ray Kappe, but this recent collaboration with WIRED Magazine is taking prefab to a new and “high tech, low impact” level. The WIRED Living Home will combine all the green elements we love, from the reuse of building materials and a LEED® Gold rating to passive heating and cooling and solar power. Combine all that with some cutting-edge technologies, like automated theatre, temperature, and lighting, and you’ve got yourself a 4,000 square foot masterpiece of green design.


prefab friday, Living Homes, LA Times, Ray Kappe, upscale prefab housing, modernist prefab housing

“The WIRED Home is where green plugs in. LEED® certified and designed by Ray Kappe, FAIA, the house is prefab to reduce cost and waste. Installation takes only one day. Fully automated to allow for simplicity and control, it is filled with the latest in gadgets, gear and appliances, yet still keeps kilowatt usage low. Even the car is environmentally friendly. Emitting essentially nothing but water vapor, the BMW Hydrogen 7 is the first hydrogen-powered luxury performance sedan for everyday use.”

The project is sponsored by BMW Clean Energy, and will open its doors later this year for public tours, sustainable programming, and charity-driven events. Once tickets for the showhouse go on sale, don’t pass them up- not only do you get a first-hand view of some of the best and greenest prefab out there, but a portion of all ticket sale proceeds will go to Global Green USA.

Also check out the website for some very cool videos.

+ WIRED Living Home
+ Living Homes

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32 Comments

  1. Inhabitat » New G... March 21, 2008 at 10:53 am

    [...] commissioning and building architecturally-stunning green prefabs. Until now, KieranTimberlake and Living Homes were connected only by their shared drives to bring the best green residential designs to market, [...]

  2. tim keepers February 11, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    all of you bitch too much

  3. Damien Somerset December 7, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Check out this video of the WIRED Living Home.

    http://www.viropop.com/zaproot/episode/ZPRextras_20071203

    Damien Somerset
    Producer – ZapRoot

  4. YogaDude October 18, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    What I think is that yes those Beauties are expensive but if I can create the same look using containers and alternative building materials, I’m the winner. I use Google sketch up and try to create a similar design using Shipping Containers and am now looking for a architect to draw up the plans and a construction crew that can do a simple Shipping Container to Home project, Hell, half of it I can do myself. Foundation,simple plumbing, simple electricity and mostly use the sun for light and heating(exterior siding that slides away exposing the steel wall and viola! heat) Cooling with the use of cinder blocks mortared in choice areas for added stability as well and a simple green grass/dirt roof on two or three containers in what ever design I choose and can make it look like the expensive ones, and I can add more later on. In Houston they are $2000-$3000 each. Any interested parties can email me at dharmayoga@gmail.com.

  5. Christopher October 5, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    This house takes up over 90% of the land it is on. If that is green then there is a lot more green space we can destroy on this planet. I love Ray Kappe’s work. This house should have been a third to one half the size. The house is built in Crestwood Hills an architectural community designed by A. Quincy Jones and Whitney R. Smith. This house goes against many of it’s modernist principles. For more info on the Wired house go to the Crestwood Hills website/blog. http://www.crestwoodla.com

  6. ted August 10, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    This house is in a canyon area, heating and cooling bills are not an issue. it’s built in a cool (temp wise, I mean) area in a temperate climate. there will be hardly any cooling needed and only some heat in the winter. not every place is Virginia, Tim.

    As for size and cost, this is an expensive home in a wealthy neighborhood. that’s simply a fact, no two ways about it. however to criticize it solely on those merits is a mistake, I think. There are big homes, there are small homes, that isn’t going to change and never has. we have to start somewhere. this kind of thing, while clearly not going to change the world, gets attention, inspires people, and makes changes at the ‘elite’ level of society, which, like or not, is important when it comes to changing the world as a whole.

  7. Mikeee July 12, 2007 at 11:10 am

    @ RKeyTec

    Most of those five points you mention, while very valid, are pretty much what irks many millions of Dutch folks around here (moi included) who are becoming increasingly irritated by what’s termed “Op elkaars lip leven”, literally: living on [top of] each other’s lip.
    Trust me: it isn’t that we dutchies one day woke up and collectively decided to squeeze our cities to extract the most living area out of all available real estate. It’s just that zoning and population density made this a necessity.

    On average, a 3-storey, 1000 sq. ft. dwelling in an average neighborhood costs no less than €225k~€275k bought or up to €800/mo. depending on the city.
    It’s just that the perceived lack of privacy and living space stresses people the same as caged bio-industry chicken and many thousands emigrate to e.g. Australia, Canada, USA and other parts of Europe exactly because of this.
    Think of the difference between having “a lot of greenery” and “a lot of nature”.
    When all the green around you is planned and planted, it’s still perceived as “built up space”. It wasn’t put there by mother nature.

    So yeah, I’m NOT saying “you’re wrong”, nothing like that, but there are definitely LIMITS to how much you can squeeze a person’s real living space before he or she starts to perceive claustrophobia from all the other oh-so-green people and buildings in it’s field of view (whether eyes are open or just in the head).
    Also remember that psychology also plays a role. Individualism* is the norm around these parts of europe hence old fashioned family-sized dwellings might seem wasteful. *=people refrain from marriage and having children by choice for a loong time.

    Love the fact that our infrastructure is so bicycle-oriented tho…:-)
    But yeah, we have the most expensive gasoline on earth too; €1,50/litre (or US$7.78/gal.) latest avg. price. Don’t exactly love that though :-/
    Our gov’t considers filling up with own-source biodiesel or cooking oil *illegal* because it’s not taxed according to their specs. [which means buying it at a one of a handful of regular gas pumps and paying 20% MORE than the next expensive juice]

  8. Green Home Debut Los An... July 11, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    [...] to Inhabitant, the WIRED Living House is releasing its design in L.A. and expanding. The man who developed the [...]

  9. RKeyTec July 11, 2007 at 5:58 am

    Some of the features in this home are certainly green and sustainable, tha major problem with US housing, and LA as an example, is the massive waste of land that is the result of “single family homes.” The 4000 sq. ft. house is less of a problem than the suburban tract it is built on. Space and resources are wasted all around – paving, asphalt, water, energy, transportation. We could all live in a comfortable environment while reducing the use of limited resources (including land) if we could only build neighborhoods that are more sustainable:
    1. Smaller lots: How much space do we realy need to sit on the deck, play on the lawn, have a BBQ, swim in the pool?
    2. Zero lot line/semi-detached houses: Side yards are an enourmous waste of outdoor space, especially when they are seldom used. This, unfortunately, is ILEAGAL in many cities.
    3. Narrower/deeper lots: We would like for every house to have access to the street and utilities, but how much access do you need to access your home – a driveway and a footpath? The narrower the lot, the more land is used for homes, yards and people, and less on streets and sidewalks.
    4. Combined pedestrian/vehicular streets: This is common in Europe, where land in many cities and suburbs is at a premium. Neighborhoods are built with narrow, dead-end streets with no sidewalks. Again more land used by people and less by cars. This can be particularly advantagious in American neighborhoods where many residents have 4 car garages.
    5. Walking distance: Finally, few changes in our lifestyle save the environment better than using our vehicles less. Higher housing density and shorter streets will make local grocery stores and small shopping centers more economically viable. If you look at most suburban areas, small shopping centers already exist, but are all concentrated along “the strip” (there’s at least one in every town). It’s just a matter of moving them closer to the residential population, again saving streets, parking, fuel.

  10. citicritter July 10, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    The house’s degree of degree of green-ness aside, and Kappe’s well-deserved past reputation as a notable designer aside, why should Wired magazine’s house be carried out in such a straight-forward modernist mode?! It’s so ‘modern’ its practically conservative — where’s the edge?

  11. MBRANE July 9, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    But at some point buying green becomes contradictory. Company advertises green as a selling point. Whereas being truly green is to abstain as much as possible from buying. I haven’t done the math on this but I suspect it may be more economical for the environment if you keep driving your existing Hummer for another ten years (while being pummel by the likes of people like me) than to sell it and buy a brand new Prius–because of the sheer amount of material and energy cost of production. We are programmed systematically in our economy and our culture to destroy and replace–whether it’s a house, or our shaver. If it is very expensive to build (say, a house) in the first place, as it is in places like Europe or Hawaii, you would tend to be conservative in your use of resources (go small). And to encourage conservation of resources should be the mantra of sites like this one.

  12. John S July 9, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    It’s been interesting to read all these comments (and there were quite a few). Many people point out to the apparent contradiction between ‘green’ and ’4000 sf’. That was also my initial gut reaction. But I think that the point that the project tries to make is that large luxury projects similar to this can be made green and very desirable.

    Large projects like this will continue to be built for those who can afford them (or don’t mind living way beyond their means), but if ‘green’ becomes desirable in their eyes, then everyone wins. It is extremely unlikely that someone in the market for a monster home would have a sudden change of heart and move into a minihome, but with great design and clever marketing, it might be possible to convince them that a greener house like this is a better option. Is it perfectly green? Definitely not, on a number of points, but probably nothing short of a mud hut qualifies as a perfectly green house (and then, only if the thatched roof is harvested in a sustainable way :-)

    And the fact that this house costs something like $400/sf is not all bad. For one, if you want something that big, you should pay for all that consumption. Similar to my theory that SUVs have a right to exist, but they should be taxed brutally. For conspicuous consumers, higher cost is not a disincentive, but if you price something ‘evil’ high enough, need will eventually overcome want. This house is clearly not an attempt at affordable green housing, even though it borrows some techniques that are well-suited for affordable building, like prefab. Designing affordable green housing is a completely different, and I think much more difficult, undertaking that designing a house like this.

  13. Tim July 9, 2007 at 12:48 am

    A home with all that glass would never get a permit here in Virginia. You could never get it to meet the energy efficiency standards. Double paned, low E, argon filled glass has an R factor of about 3.5. To get an overall R factor of 20 you would have to build 24″+ thick walls and roof filled with R40 insulation. It may be green built but you’ll need a lot of green to own it. Heating and cooling it will cost a bundle. Those utility bills come every month year after year. This seems to be lost on many of the green architects out there who love their glass walls. To call a house that energy inefficient a green home is a joke.

    Beautiful design though……..

  14. Jennifer July 8, 2007 at 12:34 am

    As sustainable as a Range Rover. Beautiful, well designed home, but far from sustainable.

  15. Leigh July 7, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Consider how this would “comp out” in terms of environmental considerations and price. Livinghomes is setting a great example for the people in their target market. No, it’s not a small or simple… If there was one of these appearing in place of all the fake Italian Villas going up behind gates in LA, it seems like it would be better, if not perfect.

  16. jj gittes July 7, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    blah blah look at the choices my wealth and privelage afford me. this is just more of the same self indulgent coverage that design mags and blogs excel at. while anyone making sound eco friendly decisions should be commended how about giving equal time to those with much less. to work with. thats the sort of design that inspires and connects us to the rest of the world. is anything worth mentioning in the shitty parts of l.a. ?

  17. Adan ochoa July 7, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Before all i want to excuseme because my english is not too good, im form mexico and i speak a little of english thaks.

    I have reading all your comments, and im seegin an strong social war… Some comments are tru, overall that that means that some material aren´t sustainable, like the wood…. aome of you think that a big home are a waste of materials and space… I don´t think so… rememember that like a humans, we need space, because we need fisical and psicological healthy, and in the sustainable design we count too!!! if don´t belive me please search the results of the proyect “BIOSFERA” or more easy way to know the problems that exists whe a human live in minispaces, check the astronouts!!!

    I think that the solution to the enviromental problems comes for two especifics points and thats are:
    ECONOMY: we need to change our economy system, around the world not just one country.
    POPULATION: We need to have a population planning around the world!!!!, because more people consume more resources!!! it´s a real thing!!! and a comun sense think…

    Now if you want make ecological thinks, please be realistic the whole world economy depends of OIL…

    this is a beautifull, proyect, yes is product for HIGH CLASS, it´s a normal thing!!! and it´s great beacuse you make a home in one month!!! or two!!! and for a person that have years working for his home this a great deal!!!, the big bad thing that i see of this proyect is the extensive use of WOOD, the wood are trees!!! so where is the ecological advance???

    And for those woho thinks that the mini homes are the solution maybe you should to go to visit countrys like, mexico (where im from), Brasil, in those countrys there are buildings of apartments, where the rooms of that apartments had just 2 rooms, one bath, a living rooms and a very small kitchen and a mini patio just for the laundry machine (if had the luck to have one) the QUALITY of life in that kind of living is very BAD!!! belivme!!! the walls are tiny and you listen all! that you neigbor so!! up, side and even behind!!! please be realistic!!

  18. Walt Barrett July 7, 2007 at 6:52 am

    While some people may consider this product eye catching and attractive, It only serves a small segment of the population. Personally I prefer micro or mini homes that are built from recycled materials and are powered by solar, wind, and perhaps recycled vegetable oil. Large expensive homes are not going to solve the housing problems of the less fortunate segment of our population. They are also a gigantic waste of building materials and labor, and only serve the wealthier segment of our population. They certainly make the statement “look at me, I’m richer than you are.” When will we build some serious and practical housing for the less fortunate? Personally, I would like to see more autonomous micro and mini home designs.
    Walt

  19. Wired Green « Liv... July 7, 2007 at 5:14 am

    [...] Prefab Friday points us to the Wired Home, a collaboration of Wired Magazine and Living [...]

  20. graig sterling July 6, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Where do i begin?
    Please don’t blame the massager,we are lucky to have websites like this one,were a ordinary person like myself can to go to enjoy for FREE beautiful modern architecture,instead of wasting a lot of cash on the architectural digest of this world just to be able to enjoy a few picture of a Frank Lloyd Wright legendary design .Inhabitat cannot just show those ridiculous green “shacks” where people live in them like sardines in a can because it is the other extreme from those imbecilic right-wing types whom just want to waste and consume because they think that they impress by having that pathetic attitude.There is a happy medium between the 2 but this “Wired living home”junk sure isn’t one!.I went to their website a month ago because i am a huge fan of the prefab movement and ultra modern architecture but the Living Home is a pretentious,over rated,unaccommodating, self important and highly over price product.These homes can only be built in the near by west L.A. neighborhoods were this outfit is situated because they will not delegate or sub-contract to anybody else than the LOCAL factory that build their home NOR will they sell the house plan and delegate to a out of state(or country)qualified architect to carry the project over.They claim to be the only one “good enough”to ensure a successful outcome but at WHAT PRICE!!!
    It is not worth it to put up will all the garbage that one as to put up with in order to get this junk,i can name a multitude of companies out there whom provide a product that is at the very least equal if not outright superior to living home without any of the B.S. at much better “bang for the buck”.
    Please judge for yourself:
    *http://www.konyk.net/
    *http://www.marmolradzinerprefab.com
    *http://www.h-haus.com/
    *http://www.modernistmodularhomes.com(my fav.)
    *http://www.architectureandhygiene.com
    *http://www.ecocontempo.com/
    I could probably list a dozen more links that have a crap load of SUPERIOR alternative to this Living Home FRAUD but give yourself a thrill and check the 2 links under the Prefab section in inabithat,where you will find a prefab gourmet buffet that will make you forget this junk.

  21. busurfer July 6, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    400.00+/sqft and rising from what I hear.

  22. MBRANE July 6, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    4000 ft^2 house?
    It’s hilarious to me that all so-called eco friendly sites displays nothing but stuff. Isn’t it obvious the immense amount of hidden material-energy cost needed to produce a product? There is typically on the order of five thousand pound of mined ore, discarded waste, undesirable by product and spent fuel required to produce one pound of an average consumer product. This general fact alone should render all “eco friendly” product site oxymoronic.
    TRY NOT TO CREATE OR CONSUME UNNECESSARY STUFF is the eco tenet you need.

  23. biscuit July 6, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    I guess the clarification I needed is that “installation” means the placing of the modules on site- I know its prefab, Jill. To finish the house takes another month (according to the Living Homes website)- including installation of windows, some finishes, hooking up utilities, etc. And all of the site work has to happen as well. The Living Homes website puts the entire construction process at 6 months.

    Theres a pretty cool time-lapse movie of the one-day installation of the modules here:
    http://www.livinghomes.net/videoInstall.html

  24. Jill Fehrenbacher Jill July 6, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    To address some of your comments:

    Hey Michael-

    The Ray Kappe Living Home is not new, but this collaboration with Wired Magazine to add all the high-tech elements is NEW. Thats why we are reporting on it, because it is breaking news.

    Biscuit-

    Its a PREFAB HOUSE – which is why installation takes only one day. It is not built on site, but in a factory. Hey this is what “PREFAB FRIDAY’ is all about – showcasing prefab design.

    Candy Apple & Todd-

    You all have a good point about the need to live smaller, but we also need ot be realistic about the types of homes that rich people in LA are going to want to buy. It also takes all kinds of architecture and all kinds of hoes to inspire people to be more sustainable. Just as much as we need affordable green home design, we also need luxury, inspirational green home design that will inspire the wealthy and upper middle class to green the way they live. I personally live in a 500 sq ft apartment in NYC, but I can’t expect that everyone in the world is going to want to live in a shoebox. For a well-to-do family in Santa Monica with children, you could do a lot worse than to buy this uber green prefab house, even if it is 4000 sf. Most of the mansions in the LA area are bigger, more expensive, ugly, and totally unsustainable monstrosities — so I think this is a step in the right direction.

    If you read Inhabitat regularily, you know that we write about affordable home design all the time on this site as well – we try to strike a careful balance reporting on luxury designs, affordable designs, and “Designs for the other 90%”. We totally agree with your point that ultimately we should all try to live smaller and more humbly. But that doesn’t mean that the Living Home isn’t a beautiful example of green design – albeit for the high-end market.

    Best wishes-
    Jill

  25. Todd July 6, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    That is, 8 people using 500 sq. ft. each.

  26. Todd July 6, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Pretty, but unless it’s giving 8 or more people shelter, it’s not a sustainable project.
    Warning: Inhabitat is going the already well-trampled route of Dwell.

  27. biscuit July 6, 2007 at 11:49 am

    The press release says its priced at $300/sf.

    I still don’t think that a 4,000sf house can be a “masterpiece of green design.” The first of the classic “3R’s” is REDUCE.

    That said, this is a pretty sweet house, for those who think they need that much space. I’m not sure what the quote is talking about where it says “installation takes only one day.” Its certainly not the house itself, which takes more like 6 months on-site, which is still very fast for a house this size.

  28. Candy Apple July 6, 2007 at 11:40 am

    What’s wrong with this picture?
    I don’t care how “green” it is, it’s a $4million, 4000 sq ft single-family house. An article in The New York Times, 1/14/07, mentions “a report released Thursday, based on what officials called the most comprehensive census and survey of homelessness in Los Angeles County, that found 88,345 homeless people in the city and surrounding communities.” What we (LA, CA, US, The World) need is a massive, dedicated commitment to building thousands of AFFORDABLE green housing units. Highlighting and showcasing one more self-indulgent Yuppie with a “my-huge-mansion-is-greener-than-yours” mentality is neither a goal nor a Feature on Inhabitat that I enjoy seeing. What are your priorities? What happened to “design like you give a damn”? Is that just for the tiny percentage of people who can afford extravagance, or is there a greater goal?
    Please think about it. I do. We all can.

  29. eco-a July 6, 2007 at 11:30 am

    A rough estimate, if you took $100 a square foot, would be around $400,000. Considering prefab construction has a history of running at around $125-150 per sq ft you’d be looking at a price tag of around $500-600,000. Plus you’d have to add in all those nifty features like the theatre and what not; realistically i would hope a house like this wouldn’t cost more than three-quarters of a mill, but it would seem that way.

  30. Michael V. July 6, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Wonderful design, however I am getting tired a viewing and reading the same damn’ Ray Kappe posting/article
    with the same photos and WIRED Living Home project information. Is this an advertisement or just lazy editorial repurposing?

  31. osi July 6, 2007 at 10:59 am

    How much would this cost?

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