9 July 2007

Michelle Kaufmann Designs - Breezehouse & Sidebreeze

Michelle Kaufmann Designs
Breezehouse & Sidebreeze

Michelle Kaufmann Designs and their sister company mkConstructs produce IMHO some of the best prefab home designs around. Real attention to detail in the whole design floor plan, use of materials and emphasis on environmentally sound construction.


Sidebreeze


Breezehouse

They’re Green
Rather than masses of fans and electric heaters, passive heating and cooling via breezeways and solid floor thermal masses for heat gain. They act like big warmth storage units, heating up during the day for release at night. Not to say at extremes the house would not require help, but the designs are really ‘sun focused’, cutting the assistance required. Being brought up with the windows and doors open all the time in summer, I can relate to a house that’s designed to let a breeze flow through, something that all houses in Brazil and northern New Zealand could do with.

The floor plans are simple with very few wet walls. With all of the mechanical, water and plumbing centralised, costs are cut and things are simpler to put together in the final install of the units. Green timber (renewable source) is used, water-saving plumbing fixtures, on-demand water heaters, and a mechanical ventilation system that is 30% more efficient than typical forced-air systems.

Flat roofs could easily accommodate solar panel arrays and water collection.


Quick
From what I can see, very little bar concrete floor pads and perimeter walls is construct onsite, leading to great efficiencies in terms of labour, less waste materials and reduced emphasis on onsite project management. Time is taken in offsite construction and design consultation. The other bonus of having everything built offsite in a warehouse is that weather delays are reduced.


Favourite designs
To be honest, they’re all great and suited to their purpose. Their product range provide solutions that fit most sites.My wife, who’s keen on having bedrooms upstairs away from the noise (and perhaps with them up high she feels more secure), likes the
Sidebreeze.
The floor plan for this house is great, presuming the house is orientated correctly; the kitchen can have all day sun, as can the master bedroom. All rooms have opposing windows that allow airflow across the room and have natural light. Those that require less light are in the core of the house: bathrooms, end of kitchen, mechanical and laundry areas. Clerestory (I love that term) windows are a feature in the living/dining rooms too. These let winter sun in when it’s most needed to heat up the thermal mass floors.

I’m partial to the Breezehouse, as I love the idea of being able to get outside from every room. The layout leads to two small courtyards, easier to handle for the novice gardener and although being one level, the house and courtyards seem to create a secure area for kids to play in, although the having so many doors to lock would worry my wife

Many of the features found in the Sidebreeze, designed for narrower lots, come from the Breezehouse. So the same Clerestory windows, breezeway, central core plumbing, thermal mass flooring, open light feeling are in this design. What are also nice about both designs are the minimal external windows. With lots becoming ever smaller and neighbours ever closer, it’s nice to see that the house’s windows are introverted. Larger spans of glass look across the property rather than out to the neighbours.


Both designs would suit a ‘south facing view’ type lot as well. This is where I can see the many doors of the Breezehouse leading out down to the river or beach and the master bathroom’s external door getting use when arriving home sandy.

Also in their quiver are the original Glidehouse and the new mkSolaire designed for views and even tighter urban lots respectively.

I cant wait to see what their next design will be.

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