Prefab Modern

Housing today uses technology and building systems which parallel a residential architecture construction used over 50 years ago. The most common system is that of wood framed construction, insulated, then wrapped with an outer skin. This material barrier between the outside and the structure can be seen throughout residential construction as the material is cost effective and predictable. Other industries such as aviation, automotive and medical have used progressions in technology throughout their design process; resulting in dramatic advances in customization and rapid changeability.

This project is a new type of living. Manufactured off-site, each panel will meet the highest quality control while cutting down cost built from a kit of parts. The unit itself is then plugged into a larger system and has maximized its volume by hiding technical and structural equipment within the wall panels the system affords flexibility by modularity.

LOCATION: Minneapolis, Minnesota
SIZE: 900 Sq/Ft
TYPE: Experimental

4 months

Adam Riddle // Advisors - David Salmela, FAIA // Dave Dimond, AIA // Marc Swackhamer


There are several reasons I became interested in a single family house as a thesis project. First, a single family house as an architecture typology is one that I am most familiar with. Second, I recognized the lack of innovative in housing construction compared to our current technological status. Third, by integrating multiple professions, the process of construction could benefit in speed, cost and creativity. The goal was to explore the possibilities of a new building system by engaging technology such as digital fabrication while front loading the design process into a kit of parts.


The savings is in the efficiency. Although this system is based on performance, durability and cost, it thrives as a unified process and not just a final product. Based on a sequence of individual professions, the product not only depends on the collective whole, it is the result of it. First, you front load the design process where the architect becomes the fabricator. Next, unlike on-site construction which is unique to each site, the panels are made in a controlled environment and can be optimal for panel fabrication. This process can be streamlined through ideas of assembly lines or mass production. The walls are made more quickly, precisely and with less waste. You begin to eliminate builder errors such as incorrect cutting and window misplacement. Lastly, the panels are shipped to the site and assembled.

In part, this specific design is not the end goal, yet it is simply the starting point for which architects, fabricators, construction works and home owners can start to understand the complexities in design as a collaborative and creative effort. This notion of a collective design team not only creates more possibilities for variability in design, but the entire construction process could become more seamless and collaborative. While bringing together experts from each field, you infuse creativity and encourage the possibility for something better.