As a stronghold of startups and innovation, Austin, Texas, is no stranger to smart design—especially when it comes to prefab architecture. Whether it’s an entirely prefabricated home or a dwelling with a modular addition, these diverse houses exhibit a cross section of stylish prefab construction across the city.
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Modern, modular, and marvelously cool in the southern Texas heat, this single-level residence by Austin-based Ma Modular is a custom version of the firm’s Casita 850 model. Taking inspiration from the vernacular breezeway house known as the "Texas dogtrot," this passively cooled home is punctuated with large windows that let in ample amounts of natural light. The 850-square-foot dwelling comprises three modules: one for the private areas, another for the public areas, and a third module sandwiched in the middle that serves as a screened-in porch.
Faced with a tight construction schedule, Cambridge-based Aamodt / Plumb turned to prefabrication to create the Modern Texas Prefab, an energy-efficient ranch-style house for a young family looking for a "home away from home" in Austin. The architects teamed up with the builders at Bensonwood, who engineered the house and prefabricated the building panels in their facility in New Hampshire. Local Austin builder Risinger Home oversaw construction, which features super-insulated walls and meets passive house standards.
Perched on a steeply sloped bank of Lake Austin, the Lake House is an elegant abode that was partially prefabricated off-site and sensitively anchored to minimize impact on the landscape. The steel-framed structure was transported to the site by truck and barge, while the remainder of the building was finished on-site. Clad in dark-stained wood and punctuated by windows, the Lake House operates completely off the grid.
Austin’s Container Bar may be the city’s most famous example of cargotecture, but repurposed shipping containers can also be found in the city’s residential neighborhoods. One such example is this modern duplex that local architect Mark Reynolds designed for Sige & Honey founder Patrice Rios. The duplex was designed to mimic the modular containers, which feel surprisingly spacious, modern, and homey inside.
Although the Austin-based tiny prefab home startup Kasita no longer exists, we felt the company deserved a shoutout for their influential and award-winning modular designs—and not least because at least one of the units is still available for sale. Created to address the affordable housing crisis, Kasita’s tech-enabled micro homes experienced an incredible media blitz right after the company’s founding in 2015. But, according to a statement on their rebranded website, the prefab company ceased operations after failing to secure enough consumer demand. The company—now under new leadership—will now seek to convert their prefab Kasita units into pop-up hotels.