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Prefab Modern Paperback – February 7, 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Who says dream houses are only for the rich? The ongoing revolution in prefabricated homes brings innovative, contemporary design to the masses, transforming "trailer trash to trailer chic," declares architectural writer Herbers. These diverse projects by 15 firms-from Michael Graves’s Pavilions (designed for Target as freestanding structures or home additions) to Rocio Romero’s LV Home building kit-are not only inexpensive, they’re also sturdy, transportable, adaptable and, most revolutionary of all, purchasable online. Much of the secret to cutting costs is using readily available materials such as steel, glass and aluminum, and cutting the building process down to a few days. As a result, several bargain homes featured sell for well under $100,000 and can be assembled by the owner-like Romero’s rustic Fish Camp House for $30,000, including furnishings, or Adam Kalkin’s Quik Build House for $50,000. Glossy photographs highlight these sleek, functional spaces, and pages are enriched by detailed house plans and Herbers’ anecdotal narration of their genesis. The blond wood floors and window-lined bookshelves in Oskar Leo Kaufman’s signature SU-SI House, for example, were originally designed for his sister Suzy and offer a clean, minimalist feel along with plenty of light and storage. Herbers situates the projects within a brief history of modern prefab and muses on the future of the movement. Most important, she aims to make this architectural spectacle as functional as the designs it features by including a final section on "Constructing Prefab," with advice on new materials and processes, building guidelines and a list of material sources. Like prefab modern itself, this book successfully combines both style and practicality. 100 color photographs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jill Herbers has written various articles on architecture and interior design for dozens of publications, including House Beautiful, Home, Metropolis, The New Yorker, and ID. She also writes a Universal Press Syndicate column appearing in over 200 newspapers, and is the author of several previous books, including the best-seller Tile. Jill lives in Princeton, NJ.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Design; Reprint edition (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060859644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060859640
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I fully agree with one reviewer's (shawn murphy) comments. This book serves really good as a catalogue of what's available on the market right now (though not comprehensive enough). In general, the text focuses on customers' perspective, not from an architect's lense. Hence, you will know what you will get if you order these houses, but not enough information about the design philosophy and creative ideas behind these products. You can just pick up this book and skim through it at a bookstore. Write down the names of the houses and architects you are interested. Then google them for more information.

For example, I am really interested in the cool Bombala Farmhouse on page 102, and two other houses designed by Collins & Turner. However, the text in the book did not tell me a lot about these designes. You can find more information on the architects' website.

Another example: On page 122-123, the author described the House in the Woods designed by Resolution:4 Architecture. In fact, this very house is the winner of Dwell magazine's 1st Dwell Home Design Competition. You can find more detailed and thoughtful reports about this prefab design in two issues of the Dwell magazine (Oct/Nov 2004, and Dec 2004).

That being said, the book also has several strengths. It does provide a lot of information considering the number of prefab houses and the future designs or concept houses featured in the book. The section of "constructing prefab" is informative, too. Overall, it is an okay book (maybe 3.5 star is a more appropriate rating). But, if you are a serious reader about prefab architecture, this is not a valuable book to purchase and collect for you library.
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Format: Hardcover
For anyone new to this subject matter this book is a basic starting point. However the more you learn about the topic from other sources the more you realize this book is just lightweight fluff. This was simply opportunistic publishing of a coffee table book while the topic was hot. The author has little expertise in the subject matter (is she a contract writer? - her previous book was about tiles) and the book reads like breathless brochureware. If you want to research the topic for free check out the great web site fabprefab.com which predates this book and is frequently updated. Also there are other great books on prefab such as Colin Davies The Prefabricated Home.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was disappointed with this book. It includes profiles of 15 architectural firms. Seven of those profiles were of firms that have done one-off architect-designed homes made largely of pre-existing materials (usually shipping containers). That is not my definition of a prefab house. To me, a prefab house is one that I can order to be built on my lot. Of the eight firms that offer prefab houses, for three of them only computer-generated images were presented (not photos of real houses). That leaves only five firms offering prefab houses ready for market. Of those, one builds 10 houses per year in Finland. Another is in Australia. Two offer only really small homes (generally intended as second homes).

The book does include (small) design plans and many photos for most of the houses. However, the fact that very few of those homes are available for me to purchase makes the book almost useless.
[...]
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Format: Hardcover
I was underwelmed with this one. Somehow this book looks like it was researched thinly via the internet (entirely perhaps), it most certainly relies on re-using existing projects recently published and offers very little, if anything in the way of new dialogue here. Is this an interesting catagory? Yes, most certainly. ... Is this book adding anything to the discussion? Im afraid not.
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Format: Hardcover
I cannot recommend this book highly enough...if you are interested in actually seeing livable houses that are prefab, this is the book for you. There are other books; but they are scholarly explanations of the genre. This book, just published, has incredible up to date information on about 50 houses you can order online(!)--today. And there's every style for every taste. For a full-time house, or especially for the weekender, these houses are perfect: Affordable and gorgeous. The design of the book really showcases how each house looks inside and out. If you want to live prefab, this is THE book for you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The reviewers who gave this book a one star are looking at the wrong book. I dropped by the book store today to look at this book and "Prefab" by Bryan Burkhart and Allison Arieff. Let me tell you something, THAT book deserves a one star. Many of the designers in the Prefab book are also in the Prefab Modern with exactly the same photos except Prefab Modern has more of them. The thing I liked about Prefab Modern is that it actually shows you the floorplans for many of the designs which helps a lot.
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Format: Paperback
as a new-to-prefab lay researcher, i loved this book. a friend passed it on to me after we were all chatting about building our "dream houses."

it gives a basic survey of different types of prefab, from modest to elaborate, and creative diversions in between. i found it an inspirational starting point to daydreaming about fun prefab modern living. the source lists are helpful as well. enjoy!
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