Thick House

View at Rear Entry

A modular home designed to be built in a controlled environment and assembled on site; a workaround for a remote site without a nearby labor force.

The platform frame is primarily about speeding up construction and maximizing interior square footage. Although these are typically marshalled as economic arguments, they are often trotted out as sustainability arguments. We’re using less! We’re being economical!

What these arguments omit is the extraction processes and intense energy use demanded by their manufacture and/or erection. Aluminum and foam, the worst offenders, epitomize this twentieth century mentality about buildings: build them light, fast, and hollow and clad them in something like vinyl that can weather temperature swings and time.

Rather than thinking about wall & floor assemblies as individual components, responsible for singular functions (studs for structure, building wrap for moisture mitigation, insulation for R-value) lets thicken and sculpt our walls so that their inherent geometry buttresses them, their materiality resists moisture, their thickness combats rapid heat transfer, their surface provides a home for piped service runs, and their form affects us!

View of Living Room
View of Living Room

The Challenge

The client, a couple looking for a quiet retreat on a heavily forested site, heard “no,” a lot. They’d been told by a half-dozen contractors that there was no labor force in the area due to historical shortages and recent wildfires.

The Solution

We designed a small home made of 48 concrete modules that could be factory built and brought to site to assemble.

Junction of Four Modules
Junction of Four Modules

View from Rear
View from West

West Elevation

Entry at North
Entry at North

North Elevation

View from Bed

View from Bedroom to Entry
View from Bedroom to Entry

Section, looking South

Ceiling Modules
Roof Modules

View of Kitchen
View of Kitchen

View from Kitchen to Living Room

Junction of Six Modules
Junction of Six Modules

Panning view of the Living Room








Santa Rosa, California


Interior Design
Furniture Selection 


2017 Rotch Prize, Finalist