Lake|Flato Architects Create the Sustainable Modular Porch House
Building on the Southern concept of the porch for energy efficiency, the Texas-based Lake/Flato Architects firm has designed their first modular sustainable prefab, the Porch House. A prefab is an interesting departure for the firm, which has a long history of superbly site-specific houses that celebrate the arid Texas environment.
The Porch House modular prefab concept is based on the very traditional Southern porch.
By necessity, in the days before the exploitation of fossil fuels for heating and cooling homes, these were perfectly engineered to facilitate cross ventilation and provide shade to defend against the overhead sun of summer, but also let in the low-in-the-sky winter sunlight.
Amazingly, for a modular prefab house, each of their great Porch Houses looks very different. How does the firm achieve this variety with a prefab? Only the rooms themselves are prefabricated.
All of the “connecting tissue” – the breezeways, porches, overhangs, and carports that connect the rooms are very site-specific, and all of these highly individual “porch elements” are added onsite.
The overall design is adapted to the unique characteristics of the site, the weather and the client’s needs, while the factory-built “library” of room options where the finishes and “mechanical systems” are installed in a controlled environment, allow for a consistent high quality product as well as an energy efficient construction process.
Only the length of the rooms vary – depending on the modules (40′ for living and 14′ for bedrooms) – but a common width ensures that virtually any combination of rooms will work well together.
The Porch House options include nine individual and modular rooms for living and sleeping. Rooms are spacious with seventeen feet in width, ten-foot high ceilings, and floor to ceiling windows and doors.
The modular construction process, where the majority of the work is done in a factory with little material waste and limited labor transportation, contributes additional energy efficiency.
In each of the modular units, high efficiency mechanical systems, water saving features, natural ventilation systems with operable doors and windows, low embodied energy materials, healthy materials, daylighting, energy efficient LED lighting, and an overall “passive design” to the entire Porch House create a highly efficient house.
The flexibility in each Porch House comes from the variety of living and sleeping rooms, and the houses can be put together in any configuration needed by the client, from the most elaborate to the simplest repeating modules.