Blu Homes, a LIL favorite in the green prefab sector, announced today that they have purchased the assets of mkDesigns, the pioneering prefab company founded by architect Michelle Kaufmann that has been one of the most visible leaders in modular sustainable design. The plan is to bring some of mkDesigns’ leading models (Glidehouse TM, mkLotus TM, Sunset Breezehouse) to customers around the country via Blu’s proprietary manufacturing and building system innovations.
This could be an intriguing combination, for mkDesigns and Blu were targeting different segments of the market and didn’t overlap much. The combined entity should be able to target a much broader swath of the market, achieving economies of scale in manufacturing, design and sales. mkDesigns offered high-end homes that were often the stars of trade shows and green architecture exhibits around the country, while Blu homes combine eco-friendly features with more reasonable prices.
We won’t know for some time whether this will all work as planned. The assets of mkDesigns were bought out of bankruptcy, so there were clearly some issues with their original approach that must be worked out. And although Blu is building its first homes in locations across the country, we haven’t heard much from them yet about finished projects and future plans. And, all good intentions could be for naught if the economy doesn’t turn around soon. Let’s hope, though, that this combination is the first sign of a maturing and consolidating prefab market, and that Blu can deliver on the original promise of prefab – high quality, eco-friendly homes at mainstream prices.
Here are some pictures of the mkDesigns’ designs acquired by Blu: