Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mod Minn(ies): Mod for the Masses

In these difficult economic times companies are finding inventive ways to offer modern design. The mortgage crisis temporarily broke the spirit of residential building, but architects are exploring digital methods to bring modernism to the everyday person. Hometta, a new web-based company, is repackaging the process of building a designer home by offering 24 small, sustainable home options designed by award-winning architects and an on-line support network to get them built for homeowners on a budget.

Hometta is one of several companies on the web focused on purveying modern house plans. Instead of typical custom homes designed around customers’ specific needs and site conditions these plans are sold as products. By purchasing Hometta’s monthly membership users are able to thumb through plans, utilize an online construction guide and locate modern builders in their area. Hometta takes the basic plan sales one step further to help digitally guide clients though their construction process for a reasonable cost of only few thousand dollars. Hometta’s is also unique because it specializes in modern homes under 2,500 square feet with sustainable features

One of Minneapolis’ own, U of M Architecture professor Marc Swackhamer, is offering his ”Draft House” as one of the Hometta house plans. Swackhamer’s firm Houminn joined Hometta early as minority owners in the company. Hometta provides the firm the ability to further develop their initial concept originally developed for the HOME housing exhibit at the Weismen Art Museum.
Houminn’s home is constructed with typical construction methods but is tuned in to its surroundings. This two level home harnesses natural ventilation from openings in the second level floor and a series of flip-up dormers on the roof. The public spaces are located on the main level which is partially bermed into the ground to provide natural insulation from Northern winter winds. The house requires careful site placement to maximize solar exposure with large Southern windows. This floor to ceiling glass creates a seamlessness from exterior patio to living room making this small home feel large.
Hometta's website and designs are alluring, but the question remains: are these unique homes within the grasp of the everyday person? The promise of affordable modern architecture has become the architectural holy grail of the 21st Century. Prefab promises of the past ten years made similar claims but never fulfilled their goals beyond the typical high-end market. However, with difficult economic times the web offers new and exciting ideas for better delivery of design for the mass market, making Hometta’s concept a promising innovation. Will it succeed in bringing affordable modern homes to those that haven’t typically been able to tap into architectural design, or will it just take clients from already struggling firms?


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Plan sales have been around forever. It's not going to change anything...

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