Prefab home manufacturer Blu Homes just announced the first setting of their re-designed Glidehouse on Vashon Island, just south of Seattle, and was even kind enough to send us some pics of the construction. The Glidehouse is the brainchild of architect Michelle Kaufman, one of the pioneers of contemporary prefab construction, and when Blu Homes acquired her company's designs they applied their building know-how to create an unfolding home based on a unique steel frame. The folding building shell, which opens up to nearly twice its road-worthy size, was also the perfect solution since the site is reachable only via ferry.
The Glidehouse is one of the first contemporary prefab designs intended to be “plug-and-play”. Unfortunately, the promise of high design with the convenience of pre-manufacturing grabbed a lot of attention but did not result in many sales. So Blu Homes took the light filled design and restructured it using a steel framing system which results in a nearly 30% wider and 20% taller version than the original without compromising its transportability from their manufacturing facility outside of Springfield, MA. Steel is very strong and light but lousy when it comes to energy efficiency (that why we make frying pans out of it). The solution was to wrap the walls and top the roof in foam which helps it achieve an Energy Star for Homes rating. One side of the home is literally folded for transport and laid out in one day on site.
The Vashon Island project is also the first to use a new user interface design tool which allows the owner to configure walls and finishes. The Glidehouse’s ample windows work well in Washington’s mild but sun deprived climate with a killer view of the Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier. An optional ‘pod’ was set adjacent the main house to increase the living area. We are pretty excited to see this fabled home get a breath of new life and give to the promise of a lowered environmental footprint to even more people.