In California, Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner have earned themselves a reputation as the go-to architects for dream homes and classic house renovations. As a measure of their credentials, consider this: they've now built six homes for Tom Ford and they were the retro-fit architects of choice for the new owners of Richard Neutra's legendary Kaufmann house.
It's a little surprising then to learn that Marmol-Radziner and Associates is quietly building a thriving side business in prefabricated homes. But lest you are overcome by images of clunky builds that threaten to collapse with a combination of bad weather and bad design, the Rincon homes (named after the iconic surf break north of LA) are studies in muscular minimalism.
'I think these days, the term prefab is thrown around wildly,' says Radziner. 'Our prefabs are modular and are delivered to site complete with everything in it.'
Rincon 5, as the current range is known, is 60-ft long and barely distinguishable from a site-build, so meticulous are the detailing and construction standards. The $220,000 fee includes construction costs. Radziner points out that each Rincon takes eight weeks to build in the factory and is delivered to the site complete with tiles, plumbing and even fixtures like dishwashers and sinks.
Architects have in general been enthusiastic about prefab homes (well, those designed by Marmol-Radziner at least) lauding them for their sustainability, cost, time efficiency and eco-friendliness. The downside, of course, is economies of scale. It will be some time yet before the prefab arm is in a position to produce ready-builds en masse let alone to the standard that Radziner expects.
In the meantime, the firm is busy with traditionally built homes in California and Seattle, with a childcare centre for Disney thrown into the mix.
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Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.
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