Near Future Vision


This showcase project aimed to show how modular housing can be used now to combine energy saving technologies affordably.


The 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle celebrated all things Space Age, including the American Home of the Immediate Future, a prefab modular demonstration house. Fifty years later, the Miller Hull Partnership’s Ron Rochon decided to revisit the idea.

Miller Hull invited Habitat for Humanity Seattle/King County to collaborate on the project, and hosted a think tank with over 60 local experts to come up with the optimal blend of existing technologies.

“We focused on what’s available now,” says Mike Jobes, the project’s lead architect. The resulting House of the Immediate Future spent six months at the foot of Seattle’s Space Needle as part of the city’s “Next 50” celebration last year.

The house had to be affordable, moveable, and take advantage of inexpensive—but unskilled—labor provided by volunteers. They settled on a hybrid approach. Pre-fab expert Method Homes built two “wet cores” off-site, infrastructure modules complete with plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems. Once installed, Habitat volunteers built panelized double-stud exterior walls around them, screwing panels together for easy disassembly. Interior walls are made of painted MDO (medium-density overlay) plywood panels overlaid with batten strips. Walls can easily move to reconfigure rooms.

“A flexible system allows for aging in place and Boomerang kids,” says Marty Kooistra, Seattle Habitat’s CEO.

This spring, Habitat disassembled the building and moved it to a corner lot in Rainer Vista, a mixed-use neighborhood in Southeast Seattle, one block from a light rail station. Designed to meet net-zero energy goals, the finished house will include a radiant heat floor, rainwater collection and 7.6-kW solar array. A six-person, multi-generational family can’t wait to turn the House of the Immediate Future into a permanent home.


To see this article as it appears in our May 2013 issue, with sidebars and additional phots, please visit our Magazine Archive.



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