These days, it's a common saying that recessions breed creativity. To Michelle Kaufmann, this means creating solutions for affordable, green living. Kaufmann found her calling after she and her husband endlessly househunted in Northern California and came up short with only cookie cutter options. She decided to build the Glidehouse—now a nationally recognized model of beautiful, well-designed and cost-effective green living. At a recent book signing for her new book Prefab Green at Builders Booksource in Berkeley, Kaufmann described the savings of the MK prefab modules, all created in waste-efficient and quality controlled partner factories.
Expanding on the themes of her book—an archive of the last five years of MK designs—Kaufmann discussed how all of the module designs, from prefabs to customized and community buildings, hold true to her five sustainability principles: smart design, environmentally-responsible materials, energy efficiency, water conservation, and healthy resources.
In a time when everyone is trying to make responsible and economical choices about the way we live, Kaufmann’s clientele is growing and her design firm is expanding. "We are in such an interesting time right now with innovation and reinvention," she told the audience, "It’s like we have a clear slate in just about every area. We have so much opportunity for making change and rethinking community."
With that in mind, Kaufmann and her team are developing urban communities in places like Denver and LA, with affordable payment options as part of the offering. Other current MK projects include the renovated New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California; the building of the first MK Hearth home, a barn-inspired design; as well as developments for quickly and well-built disaster relief modules.
MK Design aims to build 10,000 green homes by 2015—a lofty goal, to be sure, but Kaufmann has a great track record of executing on her amibitions. As she puts it, "prefab is the oldest new idea." By looking with respect toward the history of prefab and simultaneously focusing on the future of architecture and the environment, Kaufmann has established an admirable practice and approach to design in a rapidly changing world.
Click here for more from Dwell on Michelle Kaufmann.