An AD100 designer is putting net zero turnover on prefabricated housing
One key differentiator from other vendors on the market is that Aro Homes promises thoughtful design with the ability to tweak and revise as the first families move in, thanks in part to a 3D “digital twin” that will be improved through feedback. By opting for non-machined manufacturing and eliminating pre-designed modules and parts, the house is initially designed as a whole and later divided into volumetric sections that can be shipped and sewn together in a pre-purchased, permit-approved fill site.
Part of the units’ appeal will no doubt be their design bits, which come from AD100 company Olson Kundig. “The intention of designing a distinctive home like this was not so much that it would be a showpiece, as much as it would be able to fit in and not stand out too much in any given neighborhood in the NorCal area,” says Gish.
“(One of) the key elements of sustainability in our work is longevity – that means choosing materials that will last well, but also applying a rational and practical approach to architecture that allows the building to evolve over time,” says co-founder and Olson Kundig principal Tom Kundig. These materials include acetylated cypress wood on the exterior siding, permanent metal roofs, and an ipe wood deck that seamlessly connects the home’s interior to the outside at the front and back. Floor-to-ceiling windows maximize natural light inside the home, while the interior views of the home remain protected. Additionally, the home comes with pre-plumbing for gray water cleaning and reclamation, water heating and HVAC systems, and Span electrical panels.
Olson Kundig is known for his mastery of moving parts such as hand cranks, turnstiles on tracks, and pulley systems, and although this signature has been pared down within the Aro Home range, enthusiasts of their work still have plenty to explore – from a handcrafted door handle at a staircase entrance Light filtering steel.
“Flexible floor plans—such as a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor—can be used as an office or provide accessible living space to accommodate aging in place,” says Blair Payson, principal of the Olson Kundig School. The company’s research goes back to the mail-order Sears Kit Modern Homes of the early 1900s, which had more than 400 styles to choose from, to implement a flexible design approach for a less wasteful, more efficient home. Today, many Millennials and Gen Z have deviated from the “starter home” route, opting instead for residences focused on longevity and environmental sustainability. “Ultimately, the goal at Aro Homes’ core is to reimagine traditional residential construction and shift existing paradigms around what buyers typically expect in a home,” Payson adds. “If this home can, in some way, push the market to expect higher performance and higher-quality design, the impact could be enormous.”