The most recent in Dwell’s signature line of prefabricated houses by Empyrean, Mark Siminoff and Ellen Tauber’s new home in Mountain View, California, walks the line between the standardization promised by prefab and the charm of a custom home. Cambridge, Massachusetts–based architect Joel Turkel, now of Turkel Design, designed the first NextHouse for Empyrean in 2005. When Siminoff and Tauber sat down with the architect to hash out the details of their new home, it quickly became clear that modifications would be necessary.
The couple, who are designers themselves—–Siminoff works for design consultancy IDEO and Tauber has her own design consultancy firm, Sliced Bread Design—–loved the bones of the original NextHouse, but the lot they bought required a series of modifications to Turkel’s work, including shaving nearly 100 square feet from the standard NextHouse design. “From the design standpoint,” says Siminoff, “we got what we were after. We worked really closely with Joel. We must have talked to him every day.” Turkel relished adapting the NextHouse to the couple’s needs, not to mention those of their two young children. The result is a modified courtyard house, one that, through the use of a long glass accordion door, opens the interior living room into an outdoor one. Tauber has space to work from home, and the kids have ample room to play. “This house really embodied the thrill of using a prefab system: adapting standardized details to custom solutions,” Turkel enthuses.