Designer Brooks Atwood is known for his eccentric personality and his unconventional creations. A finalist in HGTV’s Design Star, Adjunct Professor of Product Design at Parsons the New School for Design, Assistant Professor of Architecture at New Jersey Institute of Technology and Founder of Pod Design, Brooks has an insatiable appetite for creative design.
Pod Design, which he founded in 2003, reimagines conventional design by creating unique industrial design products, interior environments and architectural projects. Breaking down design barriers and always imagining the unimaginable—like designing virtual furniture—Brooks’ latest design challenge has him creating a custom prefabricated home.
This seems like an oxymoron, but like his other projects this one is progressive and unique. We chatted with Brooks to get the latest information on this “pre-fabulous” project.
TotalHousehold: What inspired this "prefab-ulous" architecture project?
Brooks: A really interesting hip couple approached me at a bar after eavesdropping on my conversation about some prefab projects that I was working on and proposed an interesting challenge. They’d like a prefab house, totally sustainable and off the grid, something totally unique and new, something fun and sexy and under $100,000.
We wanted to create a new type of prefab, something custom, but prefabricated and in a completely new style of design, something that stretched the preconceptions of prefab as ugly boxes.
This baby prefab is the perfect getaway retreat for a young, hip couple. Located just a few hours north of New York City, the cabin represents everything great about being young and in love.
TotalHousehold: The word “prefab” comes with a lot of unfortunate connotations. Do you think that this new type of prefab can change that?
Brooks: Absolutely. Our goal is to show people that they can have amazing designs that can be prefabricated, sustainable and affordable and they don’t have to look like shipping containers or storage sheds.
Prefab is actually cool. Custom homes are cool, too. So we combined these to get custom prefab! We’re here to set new connotations and break boundaries through design and research.
TotalHousehold: Are all of your custom prefab designs environmentally sustainable and constructed with recycled materials?
Brooks: Yes. The beauty of prefab is that you can control every single element and material that goes into the design and construction. Everything is tracked and measured for optimum sustainability, health, cost and performance, durability and, of course, sexiness. Since the house is constructed indoors and inspected along the way, nothing is overlooked and the quality is much higher versus traditional construction. Think of it like a jewelry box or a BMW. It’s all about quality control.
Constructed completely out of recycled materials, this house pushes the traditional boundaries of home construction into new territories of prefab.
TotalHousehold: How affordable is a custom prefab compared to a standard prefab home?
Brooks: It’s a huge savings. Traditional stick frame construction ranges from $250 per square foot and up (typically around $250-$350). The prefab model comes in around $150 per square foot, depending on finishes. Whether it's a starter home or you’re looking for something magazine-worthy and amazing to change your life, we can design and build it for you. You just have to let your imagination run wild. Oh, and you can have your house built and delivered in about one month! That alone is cool.
TotalHousehold: What is your favorite prefab design?
Brooks: My all time favorite prefab home is Jens Rosom’s Block Island family retreat from 1965 for $20,700 ($145,000 in 2011). It’s a classic, absolutely beautiful and built with off-the-shelf parts that he sourced from a catalog.
It’s genius lies in its simplicity and masterful use of materials, space and scale.
TotalHousehold: What are your future plans for these custom prefab homes?
Brooks: I’d love to see these used for relief recovery, featured in design stores and used as models for a new style of design. I’m talking to different City Council members to see about creating types for specific regions along the Jersey Shore to help people replace their homes quickly and affordably.
Think of it as resilience design for the rest of us. We can use these to help people and give them an architecture that is not only affordable but will have a huge (design) impact on their lives.
I’m bringing sexy back to prefab! Go forth and conquer and get one for yourself.
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