This prefab steel residence is built from a single Quonset hut to find community through modularity


The Caterpillar is a 192-foot-long, 46-foot-wide modular residence designed and built from a Quonset hut that includes a compact, habitable cube in the center of each unit for services such as a bathroom, a shower and a kitchen.

In the United States, Quonset huts were introduced in the years following World War I. Based on the old Nissen hut, another type of prefabricated steel structure designed by the UK for military purposes, Quonset huts were designated for primary use by the US Navy. . Chosen for its lightweight profile, the Quonset Hut is a versatile building that can be shipped anywhere and assembled without skilled labor.

In Detroit’s Core City neighborhood today, real estate development firm Prince Concepts has teamed up with architect Ishtiaq Rafiuddin and landscape architect Julie Bargmann to transform the Quonset Hut into a 9,000 square foot sculpture with six residences and two living and working spaces.

After True North, the neighborhood’s first communal living and working space, the team of architects and developers hoped to merge that same sense of community into a single Quonset Hut. Dividing the long residential complex into eight units, each living and working space features 23-foot-high ceilings lined with clerestory windows and a “Jetsons”-style genesis bedroom where residents can “walk from” to barely awake” to “ready for action”, as the architects describe it.

Constructed from polished, unstained wood, the genesis bedroom is carefully positioned at the center of each unit and brings a railroad-style flow to each unit. Separating the bedroom from the kitchen and the dining room, the genesis room contains all the services available for each unit, including the bathroom, the shower and the kitchen. From the kitchen, residents go through the bathroom to get to the master bedroom and vice versa.

Finding inspiration everywhere, from musical notes on sheet music to a UFO crash landing in the forest, the architectural team behind Caterpillar set out to create a kind of community sanctuary in the urban forest of Core City. , where more than 150 trees dwell.

Caterpillar fits into the porch culture to outfit its exterior with the same sense of openness that floods the interior of every living unit. From windows to doors, Caterpillar has 36 different openings that bring pools of natural light inside during the day and emanate a golden glow from outside in the dark.

Designers: Undecorated, Detroit Studio, Main Concepts, Dirt Studioand SteelMaster

The habitable central cube equips the house with services such as a bathroom, a shower and a kitchen.

The curved walls evoke an open layout similar to that of spiritual domed buildings.

Designed in a railroad style, the genesis bedroom divides the house into two different living areas.

The bathroom takes on a minimalist personality to blend in with the open layout of the unit.

Skylights and clerestory windows bring pools of natural light into each unit.

Each unit is split into its own semi-circle splice with 36 different openings line the facades of Caterpillar.


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