Living Homes: Design-driven, ecological solutions to modern housing.

Posted on September 20, 2010



One of the biggest problems many of us face when considering purchasing a home is compromise. We compromise on the design, the location, the affordability. For the environmentally conscious of us, we recognize that many new builds are often wasteful and damaging to the environment. For those of us who lust after the modernism of the mid-century period, we have to face the reality that we may never afford that Arthur Erickson or Ray Kappe, let alone find one on the market. Most of us could never afford to have our dream home custom designed by an architect, either.

Timelapse of the downstairs living area of the first Living Home.

Thank God for Living Homes then, where you don’t have to make these compromises. Steve Glenn, the founder of Living Homes, realised that there was a desire to have the best of the design elements from the mid-century period, but also the need to incorporate sustainable materials and energy efficient elements. He recognised that with his Living Homes, not only was it important to reduce the environmental impact associated with many modern builds, but that he also needed to make them affordable.

Scott Glenn talks us through the idea behind Living Homes, with a brief word from architect Ray Kappe.

To achieve this, Glenn decided to take a modular approach to construction, creating these homes from simple, prefabricated units. This would enable the construction to be fast and efficient, cutting back on as much wastage as possible, but it would also mean that the cost was kept to a minimum.

Timelapse of the upstairs of the first Living Home.

With Living Homes, Glenn has created a company that is dedicated not only to bringing the best of mid-century design ethics into the creation of their houses, but he has also ensured they meet the highest level of energy efficiency by incorporating sustainable and environmentally friendly products and materials into their construction.

The first Living Home, which also happens to be Glenn’s own, was designed by architect Ray Kappe. Kappe is one of my favourite architects and was an inspired choice for the project. Kappe’s architecture has always worn its honesty and integrity on its sleeves, never hiding his materials, but celebrating them. Kappe was tasked with designing a series of Living Homes and, as he is without doubt one of the finest architects of the mid-century period, and I can think of no-one better suited to the task.

The First Living Home cost around $750,00 to construct and went up in a little over 8 hours – an astonishing achievement. (The  RKLH1, based on the first Living Home, will cost even less, at around $590,00.) Whilst that is still quite a princely sum for most of us, compared to a custom architectural home, the price is quite reasonable – especially considering the equivalent cost of a similar 5 bedroom new build that doesn’t come with all of the ecological benefits or from the mind of Ray Kappe.

The computer model of the first Living Home as well as a timelapse of the incredible construction itself.

Living Homes provide a range of pre-designed homes as well as custom designs and also encourage developers to create communities. I recommend checking out their site and taking the virtual tour of the first Living Home with Steve Glenn as your guide.