Project Frog, a start-up that designs and builds prefabricated sustainable buildings, recently announced a $22 million investment round led by GE, signaling the multinational company is bullish on not just environmental responsibility but innovative construction methods, too. As part of the relationship, GE will complete a Project Frog building at GE’s Crotonville Learning Center in Ossining, New York by the end of 2011.
The University of Tennessee recently opened the New Norris House, a 21st-century home that revisits the old Norris community project. As background, during the Great Depression, the Tennessee Valley Authority built a model community as part of a water works project in Tennessee. According to the New Norris House site, the old Norris homes were innovative and included electricity and heating systems for the first time in the region.
Speaking of the pros and cons of cargo container construction, web-based design magazine designboom has been working on a DIY-style, live-work container structure on Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy. The “container summer residence” is made with three containers — two live-work units and one bathroom unit with a toilet and shower. Designboom set these directly on the pavement, removed the rust, contracted out the plumbing and electrical, and insulated each ISBU with SuperTherm ceramic paint.
Housefish, a modular furniture company based in Denver, Colorado, conceived a new shelf design with inspiration from a beehive. Called Hex Modular Shelving, each shelf is made with custom aluminum extrusions that are light, strong, and hexagonal. The extrusions are then paired with FSC-certified, zero-VOC finish, maple plywood boards to create a strong and contemporary piece of furniture.
If prefab connotes the idea that a home is standardized, perhaps this home sheds some of that. It wasn’t fabricated to benefit from scale so much as to conserve resources by building it in the vicinity of people and services. Ruby Springs Prefab was built in Bozeman — roughly 300 feet from both the interior designer Shack Up Studio and architect/builder Medicine Hat Inc. — and installed in a remote location in Ruby Springs, Montana.