A cheap, green and futuristic prefab

The Tim Palen Studio at Shadow Mountain is more than futuristic-looking new structure in the Mojave Desert (near Joshua Tree, California) – it’s a prototype of a 2nd generation pre-fab home design based on the ubiquitous shipping container.

Developed by ecotechbuild, the hybrid house consists of cargo containers and pre-engineered steel building components that can be erected and combined together at the site, apparently sometimes in less than an hour – a fact your new neighbors will no doubt appreciate.

The design features all-steel construction for earthquake, fire and wind protection, as well as large windows and doors that maximize natural daylighting, ventilation and evaporative cooling.

A bolt-on, adjustable steel frame and shade system reduces solar heat, glare and wind on the building and its solar breezeway by 50 percent, while allowing for the plug-and-play intallation of solar electric and water heating panel arrays in the future.

A living roof here makes use of greywater irrigation and native desert plants to absorb heat, glare, dust and CO2, while an integrated water harvesting and storage system takes a degree of burden off of the precious water from the tap (this is the Mojave Desert, after all).

According to ecotechdesign, the finished construction costs of the Tim Palen Studio were 50 percent that of the equivalent, locally available prefab alternatives.

Susan DeFreitas, EarthTechling