Virginia Tech is set to introduce the final phase of its prototype FutureHAUS model home, which features prefabricated components fitted out with smart technology, at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Orlando, FL, next week.
The addition joins earlier modules for a kitchen, a bathroom and a living room. The fourth phase will include bedrooms and a home office. Features span the practical to futuristic, with moveable walls, a smart closet and RFID tags to organize clothing, phase-changing windows, LED lighting and a mixed-reality workspace.
- Following the event, the team will construct a four-story FutureHAUS prototype at the university’s Corporate Research Center, in Blacksburg, VA. The team includes students and faculty from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies’ School of Architecture + Design and the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science.
The concepts on display at FutureHAUS are meant to inspire or to be adapted by builders responding to changing homebuyer preferences.
Rising home prices, for example, are encouraging younger, first-time buyers to sacrifice square footage, spurring demand for better use of space. Bobby Berk, a Los Angeles-based designer, told Construction Dive in September that younger homeowners are seeking properties with open floor plans and communal spaces, often in walking distance to other amenities.
Builders are also exploring new ways to incorporate smart technology in their homes. KB Home is rolling out a series of home automation features controllable through Apple’s HomeKit platform in two of its new communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. And last month Brookfield Residential’s Washington, DC, division unveiled a line of smart homes with voice-enabled home automation through Amazon's Alexa voice assistant platform.
Building methods are also slowly changing, and prefabrication is continuing to make inroads in the property market. A 32-story, 363-unit apartment tower composed of prefabricated, modular parts with a steel frame opened in Brooklyn, NY, in November. In May, Minneapolis startup Sm+RT Homes announced plans to build modular homes in the city’s blighted North Side. The company, which was named a 2016 Dive Awards winner for construction, finished its first house in August and, as of November, had nine others in the works.
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