Plant Prefab goes tiny with the Sunset BUD LivingHome

Bud exterior
© Plant Prefab

They're designed as temporary living for Malibu fire victims, but nice enough that they might never leave.

TreeHugger first heard about Steve Glenn and his company, LivingHomes, back in 2005, when he was working with the late great Ray Kappe (who just died last week). Some of his early houses were really high-end; I noted about his house for Wired Magazine that "with design and of innovation, it starts with the early adopters for whom money is no object; they want the best and they want it now."

Almost fifteen years down the road, it is a different story; Glenn opened Plant Prefab to build more accessible, affordable and even greener homes.

We are the nation's first prefabricated design and manufacturing company dedicated to sustainable construction, materials, processes, and operations. We believe that homes can — and should — be built in ways that minimize their negative impact on energy, water, and resources, as well as the health of the people who live in them and build them. We know that factory construction can be faster, more cost-effective, and more reliable than on-site construction.

Bud Studio exterior© Burdge Architects

One of those designs is the Sunset BUD LivingHome, described as...

...a scalable prefab home that was created as a response to a special program by the City of Malibu allowing victims of the 2018 Woolsey Fire to install accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a temporary housing solution. A year after Woolsey, and in the midst of an ever-threatening wildfire season, the units come not only as a timely solution to those who want to re-inhabit their property while their primary home is rebuilt, but also as a way to add lasting property value, as impeccably-designed permanent structures that can be later used as a guest house or office, or rented out as a separate housing unit.

This was actually done in California before, after the San Francisco earthquake; you can still find, and occasionally buy, earthquake shacks that are in people's backyards. The Plant Prefab ones look like they are more substantial.

It's designed by Douglas Burdge, who is apparently known as "Malibu's architect," continuing Steve Glenn's tradition of hiring really experienced and talented architects like Kappe, Kieran Timberlake, Brooks + Scarpa and designers like Yves Behar. Steven Glenn explains in a press release:

“This project gets to the heart of what our company stands for,” states Plant Prefab Founder and CEO Steve Glenn. “Not only does it provide immediate relief for local fire victims but it’s a pure reflection of Plant Prefab’s mission to provide well-designed, high-quality homes that are time and cost efficient to build, as well as healthy and sustainable. Burdge Architects were the perfect partner for this, not only because they are the leading architecture practice in Malibu, but because they are a member of the community, and have a keen understanding of the environment of the surrounding region.”

BUD with pitched roof© Burdge Architects

To be ready for the next fire, the units have a "a fire-resilient exterior with a modern form."

Sunset Magazine is also involved; they have long been supporters of modern green prefab, showing Michelle Kaufmann's BreezeHouse way back in 2005. They have been sold, and no longer have their wonderful Menlo Park site where they would show homes like this at their Sunset Celebration Festival, so it is nice to see that they are still in this game.

Smallest version of ADU© Burdge Architects

The plans are interesting, starting with the basic ADU at 445 square feet,

plant prefab scales up© Burdge Architects

...which can grow into the full California with attached garage, two bedrooms, two baths.

BUD interior© Burdge Architects

They are pretty fancy for an ADU, with their engineered European oak floors and custom cabinetry, or the bathroom outfitted with Italian porcelain and German plumbing fixtures, but just because your house burned down doesn't mean you can't have nice things. More at Plant Prefab.

BUD bathroom© Burdge Architects

Plant Prefab goes tiny with the Sunset BUD LivingHome
They're designed as temporary living for Malibu fire victims, but nice enough that they might never leave.

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