Small, Green, and Mighty: Hurricane-Proof Prefab

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By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell
A new prefab company represents the future of low-impact affordable housing.

When it comes to building sustainably, it requires more than slapping a solar array on a house. Cubicco—a Dutch prefab company that opened an office and a manufacturing facility in Miami, Florida, in August 2013—takes a holistic approach to responsible residential architecture. "We ought to construct homes that are built around social and environmental needs with a design that’s beautiful, functional, and within reach," Randy Riteco, Cubicco’s founder, says. 

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Cubicco’s prefab houses, like the Cabana Beach model, are built with laminated veneer lumber, an engineered material that uses up to 90 percent of a tree—compared to typical wood timbers that use only 60 to 70 percent. Modules can be disassembled if the owners relocate.

Structural resiliency and longevity were of paramount importance to Riteco. To that end, Cubicco’s prefabs can withstand Category 5 hurricanes, extreme heat and cold, ten-foot snow loads, and earthquakes (when paired with a strong foundation). "Living and working in the Caribbean, I have been through the worst situations Mother Nature can bestow upon us—I’ve seen houses lost in minutes," says Owen Healy, a partner at Cubicco. "That inspired me to engineer a home that resists catastrophes and saves resources through rainwater harvesting and solar technology." 

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The starting price for a fully built 685-square-foot, two-bedroom Cubicco model in the Miami area is just over $115,000.

The starting price for a fully built 685-square-foot, two-bedroom Cubicco model in the Miami area is just over $115,000. "Hurricane-approved, sustainable, and contemporary design usually comes with a luxury price tag," says Mario Espiñeira Jr., another partner in the company. "Cubicco has changed that."