written by:
May 20, 2011

In 2008, Frank Vafaee, Manish Desai, and Andre Farhang founded Proto Homes. The Los Angeles-based company designs, builds, and sells homes as products. "When you buy a phone or a car, you expect it to be innovative and to have the latest updates," says Vafaee, the company's CEO. "That's what we're doing by selling houses as products." 

The Sunlight Residence by Proto Homes.
The Sunlight Residence by Proto Homes.
Courtesy of 
Copyright Lisa Romerein
1 / 8
Frank Vafaee, founder and CEO of Proto Homes.
Frank Vafaee, founder and CEO of Proto Homes.
2 / 8
These diagrams show the ProtoCore, where all the major infrastructural systems of a Proto Home are housed.
These diagrams show the ProtoCore, where all the major infrastructural systems of a Proto Home are housed.
3 / 8
Here, the insides of the Sunlight Residence's ProtoCore.
Here, the insides of the Sunlight Residence's ProtoCore.
Courtesy of 
Copyright Lisa Romerein
4 / 8
With the ProtoCore at the center, the rest of the house is able to be open and surround the core. Vafaee and his team call the living areas the "hyperspace."
With the ProtoCore at the center, the rest of the house is able to be open and surround the core. Vafaee and his team call the living areas the "hyperspace."
5 / 8
The living room at the Sunlight Residence illustrations one arrangement option for the hyperspace.
The living room at the Sunlight Residence illustrations one arrangement option for the hyperspace.
Courtesy of 
Copyright Lisa Romerein
6 / 8
This illustration shows how the house can be altered to create additional rooms as needed.
This illustration shows how the house can be altered to create additional rooms as needed.
7 / 8
The Sunlight Residence puts into action the multiroom FlexZone plan.
The Sunlight Residence puts into action the multiroom FlexZone plan.
Courtesy of 
Copyright Lisa Romerein
8 / 8
The Sunlight Residence by Proto Homes.
The Sunlight Residence by Proto Homes.

Proto Homes first structure is the Sunlight Residence—which the company plans to build upon for each subsequent model. "Just like you get a new generation of cars every year, you'll get a next-generation house each year as we track any deficiencies or inefficiencies," Vafaee says. Here, we chat with Vafaee about the company, the home, and his take on prefab. Vafaee will join Mark Rylant of Method Homes at Dwell on Design in Los Angeles June 24-26. The Sunlight Residence will be part of Dwell on Design's Westside Home Tour on June 18.

Why treat a home like a product?
When you buy a product like a phone or a car, you expect it to be innovative and have the latest updates. It's easy to access and easy to check out. It has options. When you purchase a service like a home, you don't get all of that. Once you look at a house as a product, however, what you expect from it changes and you suddenly have those options, updates, innovations. That's what we're doing by selling a house as a product.
Like most prefab houses, a Proto Homes structure is part prefab, part site-built. Tell us more about the building process.
We call it hybrid construction. We make all our walls in the factory and drop them at the site. In panelized construction, you then send in the electrician, plumber, and so on to install the wires, pipes, et cetera. We prefab the entire infrastructure system and drop it into the center as the ProtoCore. The ProtoCore is like a car engine. In a car, most of the stuff that makes the car function is under the hood so when you need to replace a spark plug you don't have to tear out the seats, when you change the oil filter you don't have to rip open up the trunk. The ProtoCore is eight-feet wide, eight-feet long, and 22-feet tall. It houses the furnace, condensers, water heater, and so on. The toilets are all wall-mounted and are already installed in the core. We put it in the middle of the foundation and build the house around it.

With the ProtoCore at the center, the rest of the house is able to be open and surround the core. Vafaee and his team call the living areas the "hyperspace."
With the ProtoCore at the center, the rest of the house is able to be open and surround the core. Vafaee and his team call the living areas the "hyperspace."

How is the living space organized?
There are no other houses like this because of the flexibility we offer. You can choose to have no bedrooms besides the master bedroom, and then if you have a kid or two down the road, you can buy the components to make bedrooms. Then, when the kids leave, you can take everything out and regain your big open space. The system is based on armory practices and the idea of components that can be taken apart and put back together again.
Here, the insides of the Sunlight Residence's ProtoCore.
Here, the insides of the Sunlight Residence's ProtoCore.

Why should someone choose a prefab home like those by Proto Homes over a stick-built home?
It offers a very predictable construction process. That's the goal of all prefab: to create a predictable experience. Our homes are completed in about three or four months.
The living room at the Sunlight Residence illustrations one arrangement option for the hyperspace.
The living room at the Sunlight Residence illustrations one arrangement option for the hyperspace.

Join us at Dwell on Design in Los Angeles June 24-26 and hear Vafaee and other leading prefab designers and manufacturers speak about the latest in prefab design and when and why it makes sense. Take the Westside Home Tour on June 18 to see the Sunlight Residence in person.

 

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016