10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
The advantages that come with building a steel prefab go far beyond just the aesthetic choices.

Along with offering a sustainable, efficient, and affordable way to build, prefabs also allow you to place your home on a site with minimal disturbance to the land. Thanks to its durability, strength, and cost-effectiveness, many prefab architects choose to work with steel. 

Here, we’ve gathered 10 prime examples that prove that prefabricated homes made with this practical material can come in many shapes, sizes, and styles.


Prefab Weekend Retreat

Architect: Marmol Radziner, Location: Mendocino County, California

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 1 of 10 - When Abbie and Bill Burton hired Marmol Radziner to design their prefab weekend home, their two requests were "simple-simple, replaceable materials," says Abbie—such as concrete floors (poured offsite in Marmol Radziner's factory) and metal panel siding—and "the ability to be indoors or outdoors with ease." Deep overhangs provide shade and protection from rain, so the Burtons can leave their doors open year-round and hang out on their 70-foot-long deck even in inclement weather. 

When Abbie and Bill Burton hired Marmol Radziner to design their prefab weekend home, their two requests were "simple-simple, replaceable materials," says Abbie—such as concrete floors (poured offsite in Marmol Radziner's factory) and metal panel siding—and "the ability to be indoors or outdoors with ease." Deep overhangs provide shade and protection from rain, so the Burtons can leave their doors open year-round and hang out on their 70-foot-long deck even in inclement weather. 

Blue Sky Prototype Home

Architect: Blue Sky Building System, Location: North of Joshua Tree National Park

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 2 of 10 - To achieve McAdam’s steel-home dream, the Blue Sky team had to overcome a significant problem: the thermal properties of steel. It can burn wicked hot in the desert sun before turning searingly cold on a frosty desert night. The conductive properties of steel tend to amplify whatever’s happening outdoors inside the house. After months of research, the team found a solution in the form of steel studs insulated with expanded polystyrene foam. A Pennsylvania firm, Accelerated Building Technologies, created a channel system through the foam that forces hot and cold temperatures to follow a zigzag path along metal pieces embedded in the insulation, thus deadening its effect on the interior temperatures.

To achieve McAdam’s steel-home dream, the Blue Sky team had to overcome a significant problem: the thermal properties of steel. It can burn wicked hot in the desert sun before turning searingly cold on a frosty desert night. The conductive properties of steel tend to amplify whatever’s happening outdoors inside the house. After months of research, the team found a solution in the form of steel studs insulated with expanded polystyrene foam. A Pennsylvania firm, Accelerated Building Technologies, created a channel system through the foam that forces hot and cold temperatures to follow a zigzag path along metal pieces embedded in the insulation, thus deadening its effect on the interior temperatures.

Hillside Desert Prefab

Architect: Marmol Radziner, Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 3 of 10 - The modular two-story steel-and-glass structure sits atop a windy ridge on the city’s western edge, near Red Rock Canyon. Its prefabricated components—steel-frame modules that were prepared with finished floors, walls, doors, and fenestration, or were designed as canopied or trellised decks—were all made in Marmol Radziner’s home-building factory, near Los Angeles, and trucked over to the one-and-a-half-acre site.

The modular two-story steel-and-glass structure sits atop a windy ridge on the city’s western edge, near Red Rock Canyon. Its prefabricated components—steel-frame modules that were prepared with finished floors, walls, doors, and fenestration, or were designed as canopied or trellised decks—were all made in Marmol Radziner’s home-building factory, near Los Angeles, and trucked over to the one-and-a-half-acre site.

Compact, Light-Filled Prefab

Architect: Chris Pardo, Location: Marrowstone Island, Washington

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 4 of 10 - Architect Chris Pardo designed the Element 1 model for prefab builder Method Homes, cladding it in Cor-Ten steel and cedar. Pardo’s design "is the definition of simple, elegant, straightforward building," resident Karen Kiest says.

Architect Chris Pardo designed the Element 1 model for prefab builder Method Homes, cladding it in Cor-Ten steel and cedar. Pardo’s design "is the definition of simple, elegant, straightforward building," resident Karen Kiest says.

Vipp Shelter

Company: Vipp

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 5 of 10 - For 2015, Vipp—the Danish industrial design company known for its iconic trash cans and all-black kitchens—introduced a 592-square-foot prefab unit called Shelter.

For 2015, Vipp—the Danish industrial design company known for its iconic trash cans and all-black kitchens—introduced a 592-square-foot prefab unit called Shelter.

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 6 of 10 - Based in Sacramento, California, TAYNR specializes in prefab homes built from shipping containers. 

Based in Sacramento, California, TAYNR specializes in prefab homes built from shipping containers. 

Forj Lofts

Builder: Eco Steel, Location: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 7 of 10 - The Forj Lofts is a minimalist three-story residential loft unit on the Delaware coast. The project was engineered for extreme wind loads. The Forj name is a play on words for an Iron Forge, as there's nothing but steel used for the building components. 

The Forj Lofts is a minimalist three-story residential loft unit on the Delaware coast. The project was engineered for extreme wind loads. The Forj name is a play on words for an Iron Forge, as there's nothing but steel used for the building components. 

Container Love

Architects: LHVH, Location: Germany

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 8 of 10 - This modern prefab shipping container home in  Germany was designed by Cologne-based studio, LHVH Architekten. 

This modern prefab shipping container home in  Germany was designed by Cologne-based studio, LHVH Architekten. 

Anthrazit House

Architect: Pamela and Hector Magnus, Location: San Diego, California

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 9 of 10 - Combining a prefab steel super-structure with concrete walls and insulated metal panels, Anthrazit House in Santa Barbara was designed by architects Pamela and Hector Magnus and built in collaboration with EcoSteel.

Combining a prefab steel super-structure with concrete walls and insulated metal panels, Anthrazit House in Santa Barbara was designed by architects Pamela and Hector Magnus and built in collaboration with EcoSteel.

Graham Residence

Architect: Blue Sky Building System, Location: Yucca Valley, California

10 Steel Prefabs That Are Both Modern and Practical - Photo 10 of 10 - Manufactured with up to 70-percent recycled steel, the hybrid prefab home limits construction waste to the factory, where it's recycled. The efficiency and lightness of the resulting build is another environmental advantage.

Manufactured with up to 70-percent recycled steel, the hybrid prefab home limits construction waste to the factory, where it's recycled. The efficiency and lightness of the resulting build is another environmental advantage.

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