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Pro Portfolio: Proto Home smart home debuts in Baldwin Hills with Web telemetry and iPad control

February 28, 2011 |  8:00 am


Every Monday, we post a new home whose design is presented in the designer's or the builder's own words. This week:

Builder: Frank Vafaee, CEO and founder, Proto Homes, Los Angeles

Landscape designer: Sean Knibb, Knibb Design, Venice

Location: Baldwin Hills

Proto4 Builder's description: Proto Homes uses a hybrid construction method where the efficiency of prefabrication meets the flexibility of site-built,  resulting in construction completion time of under 16 weeks.  All Proto Houses have a basic architectural anatomy in common: "Hyperspace + Core" (patent pending). The wall panels and the roof deck of the hyperspace, as well as the utility core, are prefabricated and are then assembled at the site.

Proto Homes was conceived in the spirit of making modern architecture more accessible, without shortchanging quality or architectural integrity. In fact, this particular neighborhood was selected to test our thesis: An architecturally significant modern house can be produced in about four months, and can be offered at the neighborhood's average sale price per square-foot. (The 2,600-square-foot Sunlight Residence is currently listed at $850,000 -- that breaks down to $327 per square foot, below the low end of the $350-$400 per square-foot comps for the neighborhood.)

In pursuit of efficiency and flexibility, we invented "Hyperspace + Core," which makes up the basic anatomy of every Proto House. The Hyperspace is the flexible fuselage, while the core is its efficient engine. Using "Hyperspace + Core" as the foundational chassis, we are able to accommodate different sizes and features for each Proto House.

Every Proto House will be compiled from the collection of predesigned and tested components which would profoundly shape its unique architecture. Some of the predesigned components that have been used in Sunlight Project are "Hyperspace + Core," "Flex Zone," special slab edge, seasonally adjusted air flow, networked control system, zero penetration roof, efficient kitchen and replaceable exterior panels.

Our vision is to create a house that can accommodate the changes in our lives and the advances in technology. We hope Proto Homes' DNA, which is founded on efficiency, flexibility and innovation, will result in houses that will be perpetually less expensive to build while fostering sustainability and environmental consciousness.

For a look inside the Sunlight Residence, keep reading ...


The living, dining and kitchen space are seamless, creating a versatile and voluminous space for entertaining.

Double-height windows fill the living space with natural light. As an added feature, homeowners can opt for automatic blinds that are programmed to shut when the direct sun hits the windows.

The kitchen island is mounted on casters, which allows for many configurations. The pendant light fixtures fold up too.

The kitchen is truly the heart of any home, and Proto Home kitchens are no exception. Whether entertaining or simply making a weeknight dinner, the kitchen is at the center of everything.


All Proto Homes feature "Hyperspace + Core" -- the core is a shipping-container-sized control room that contains the home's systems. The Hyperspace is the versatile living space that surrounds it. Proto Homes are covered by a wireless mesh. Music, temperature and the gas fireplace are connected through the "Control 4" home control system. All homes come with an iPad with which to control this new state-of-the-art smart home's features.

All Proto Homes come equipped with a projector which can display such things as items from your laptop or movies on the double-height walls.

The stairway and hallway.

Proto Homes feature a "Flex Zone Studio," a versatile loft-like space that can be divided into separate rooms or opened up to serve as a home studio or office space.

The master suite is situated in the loft above the living space.

Proto Homes offer both the openness of loft living with the comforts and amenities of a single-family residence. The space is both contiguous and open as well as private and partitioned.


A modern kid's bedroom.

 The bathroom boasts a versatile shower-tub combined with a wide rim.

The "Flex Zone Studio" can be partitioned as another bedroom or left open as an office, as shown here. Proto14
Custom shelving units double as movable walls and room partitions. In the future, any prefabricated shelving units (say an Ikea Lack wall) will be compatible with Proto Homes. Simply plug in the wall or shelving unit of your choice to create separate bedrooms.

Exterior of the house viewed from the street.


Exterior panels are standard sizes, which means that homeowners can be easily switch or "re-skin" their homes.


The core is the heart of the Proto Home; a standard shipping-container-sized control room in which all the home's plumbing, electrical, and other systems are found. Upgrades can be easily made by simply "plugging in" new additions.

A commercial-grade sliding door slides up and out of sight to allow indoor and outdoor entertaining space to blend together.

-- Compiled by Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Lisa Romerein


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