Exit133 is about Tacoma
Prefab Houses are More Than Just Trailers
I realize that Tacoma isn’t exactly a bastion of architectural risk taking, but we should at least know a little bit about design in the rest of the country. The News Tribune published an article this morning on how cities are upset at the new Washington State Law requiring the acceptance of manufactured homes in all cities.
“Some of us used to call them trailers,” said Sumner City Councilman Dave Enslow. “But we don’t have a choice.”
The News Tribune missed an opportunity to show two sides to this story. The one side worries about the past perception of trailer homes as a way to decrease property values. This was covered by the story. The other side is one of the hottest architectural movements to hit the US in decades – the prefab modern home. Even if we ignore the modern design part of this, the general idea is that manufactured homes are not what they used to be. This was not covered.
This isn’t a new story. The New York Times ran a piece on this back in 2002 called “Putting the Fab in PreFab” (I would link to it, but it costs money to view it). Dwell Magazine is a gorgeous magazine on architecture and design that has led the way in promoting manufactured homes in its articles as well as through its Dwell Home contest. Architecture firms seem to be popping out new designs every month. The LV Home appeared and people started getting excited. Then the Glidehouse hit the mainstream press with features in Sunset Magazine and most national papers. I, on the other hand, want something small. So the WeeHouse has intrigued me since I first read about it. Big land with a small house. Perfect.
I have found in my scatter-brained search for vacation property covenants that won’t allow these homes. I find it curious how adamantly opposed people are to the idea of parts of a home arriving on a truck even though they are much nicer than anything else in the neighborhood. If Sumner, or any other city, is worried about its Main Street, protect it through historical neighborhood designations or by some other means. Disallowing all manufactured homes isn’t the answer as it appears it may be the future of architecture.
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