With the amount of prefabs on the market today, the term has all but become a synonym for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), backyard homes, granny flats, tiny homes, and cabins. But one company that’s designed its share of those is now thinking a little bit bigger.
U.K. design firm Koto has just announced it will offer custom architect-designed modular residences, all of which will carry the company’s sculptural forms, jet-black yakisugi cladding, and Japandi aesthetic. According to company cofounder Johnathon Little, the new offering, called Koto House, is a direct response to consumer perception. “Modular is becoming a more respected and competitive method for delivering both homes and cabins in a sustainable and controlled manner,” he claims.
In parallel with Koto House, the firm has also launched Koto Living, an in-house studio dedicated to interior design and an expansion that promises clients a higher level of bespoke detailing compared to the company’s off-the-shelf models.
Koto’s first proof of concept is in North Uist, an island in the remote Outer Hebrides of Scotland. “After our our client-to-be obtained the land in 2020, it quickly became apparent due to the harsh and unpredictable weather conditions there that a traditional on-site build would be a costly and very time consuming process,” says Johnathon. “So modular construction seemed like an option worth exploring for them.”
The roughly 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom home was built in the U.K. by Koto’s exclusive build partner, Unos Systems, and then delivered by road and sea as seven modules. The team craned the modules into position before “stitching” them together to complete the build. As Johnathon touches on above, where access or climate pose challenges for traditional construction, prefab has the potential to provide a swifter solution.
Koto is also promising buyers a fixed-price model. Where supply chain issues, labor shortages, or unforeseen site challenges can lead to cost increases in traditional building, stalling progress or blowing up budgets, the firm says its building method makes it easy to deliver its custom designs at an agreed-upon cost.
While the company claims its homes are more affordable than conventional builds, it declined to reveal pricing, saying that each home is unique and costs are dependent on location and the brief. (For reference, its smallest off-the-shelf design, the roughly 177-square-foot Pari Cabin, starts at $42,000.)
On the heels of the home in North Uist, Koto says it currently has a number of projects in the design phase or in construction in factories in the U.K., Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and the U.S., and plans to expand to more countries in 2023.