Archive: manufactured housing

August 12th, 2008 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Environment & Energy | 2 Comments

Future of Sustainable Affordable Housing – A Prototype

The future of housing in the United States, and the world, is one of the most important issues we face. In the U.S. housing has been hit with a perfect storm:

1. Demographic changes including an older population, smaller households, and a younger population with differing values – all of which mean a mismatch between what is built, and what is needed in the future.
2. High energy costs, and a need to reduce the carbon footprint, which again means a mismatch between what is built and what is needed.
3. High income inequality, and lower relative incomes for most of the population – which again means a mismatch between what is built, and what is needed in the future.

On a global scale, some regions of the world face similar issues, while others simply face a need for more housing in the face of population growth.

Confronting these needs is an industry historically slow to innovate or change. It seems apparent that new models of smaller, more affordable, high-volume production housing is needed.

Recently we had a chance to tour a model of such new housing, which was on display in downtown Seattle. We visited and taped an interview as the demonstration ended a several month run.

In the video which you can see below, we learned about the prototypes built for the Unico Properties Inhabit project . The two units on display were designed by a team of architects from Hybrid Seattle Architects and Mithun Architects, also of Seattle. The prototypes were manufactured in a factory, and displayed in downtown Seattle. The design was inspired by the concept of using shipping containers, though the units are all original construction.

We talked with Tammie Schacher, AIA LEED AP, and Principle in Mithun. Tammie was a lead in this design project. Mithun is among the international leaders in sustainable urban design, both residential and commercial. The firm originally caught our eye at because of their involvement in a sustainable, affordable housing project in Seattle called Highpoint, and also because of an award winning concept they developed for vertical agriculture in central cities.

Tammie had a great story to tell about the entire Unico Inhabit project. The prototype you will see, by the way, was just fully permitted for a 66-unit development in Seattle to be built in the coming months. The video interview and tour comes in 4 parts…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The video series can also be seen at YouTube.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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