The creators of Virginia Tech's revolutionary FutureHAUS modular building system recently took their idea from the drawing board to the real world. Now the home they built based on a groundbreaking "cartridge" concept has received top honors for its design.

The LakeHAUS near Charlottesville, Va., received a 2016 AIA Virginia Excellence in Architecture Design Award earlier this month in Richmond, Va. The 2,200-square-foot lakeside home features flowing open spaces, abundant natural light, and wood walls and floors. Team leader Joseph Wheeler, a Virginia Tech professor, says the award is especially noteworthy for a modular home.

"With this AIA recognition, we are able to demonstrate to the public that the prefab process can not only deliver smart construction, but good design as well,” Wheeler says. “This home is tangible proof that traditional methods of stick-built, on-site home construction are on their way out. Prefabricated home components are the inevitable wave of the future, particularly with the added demands to integrate modern technologies.”


The LakeHAUS was built and sold last summer at a competitive market price to two Virginia real estate agents, Wheeler says. Its components such as bathrooms, kitchens, and audiovisual walls, were made in a factory where electrical, plumbing, and digital technologies were integrated, installed, and tested before being transported in 12 cartridges to the building site. The process simplified the construction process by eliminating coordination of tradesmen on site, reducing construction time and costs, and improving quality, sustainability, and safety practices, says Wheeler.

“Given the dire projections for worsening global population, housing, and environmental conditions over the next several decades, we believe the FutureHAUS model is the most reasonable antidote for the industry," he adds.

The LakeHAUS is a project of Hauscraft, a business partnership between Wheeler and his former student, Joshua Batman, an architect in Charlottesville, and his sister, Natalie Batman, the company’s director of operations. Their aim is to craft homes that integrate design and construction to create cutting-edge, sustainable spaces that complement the inhabitants, community, and the natural environment.