Apple architect picks a small prefab to savor CA countryside

When BJ and Danielle Siegel began planning their home in the hills of , California, they wanted something light on the land. “Sometimes when people build a house they want to express all the cool things they can get into a house and for us it was kind of the opposite,” explains BJ. “We wanted to do as little as possible and make it a comfortable place to live.”

BJ, an architect who's also head of store for Apple, didn't have time to babysit a build, but he was enamored by the customizable prefab design . Created by of St. Paul Minnesota's , the ultra minimal design is based on a simple box with two walls of sheer windows so the landscape takes center stage.

“I think a lot of people don't necessarily buy into the idea of less is more. I think a lot of people think more is more. And they add features and they add complexity and they add size and it makes them feel like they've actually gotten more and I think it's much more difficult and much harder to actually get there through doing less. That's the fun challenge.”

The Siegels also realized that in the pricey San Francisco Bay Area, modular builds that could be nearly finished in a factory, were a lot cheaper and easier to construct than site-built homes.

In order to create enough space for themselves and their teenage son Jules, the Siegels opted for two boxes placed at an angle from each other (to create privacy). The larger box houses the kitchen (on one wall), open dining room and a box for Jules' bedroom (with the bathroom and shower tucked behind it). The other box is BJ and Danielle's bedroom and with again a box unit in the middle that houses their closet and separates the space.

“I always feel like really great architecture is like a really great poem. You have to it work it work it, you reduce it down to the things that only say what they have to say and you get rid of everything else and that's where the sweet spot is for me.”


  1. Courtesy flush is mandatory in this home and you know the lad has caught dad on a down stroke. I couldn’t picture being an architect, as I am, and not insisting on designing the house myself. You only get so many chances to design your own. He’ll forever have to oil that Ipe or it will silver which can look good but will change the look of the house.

  2. For those that don’t like the modernistic look, picture a gabled roof (Japanese style) and Shoji screens= traditional Japanese house with walls that open up, and a wall-side hall/covered porch. Beautiful house, beautiful location–what about wild fires? Would it survive? Would it roll down the hill after the first big earthquake?

  3. Reading through the comments it seems this build and owner have really fired up the green eyed monster. Just for you jellybears who might have missed it he’s got a Porsche too, (a nice one).

  4. Prefabricated housing is just like nuclear fission, people have been working on both for decades, and they tell us how great it’s going to be, but we still don’t have a tangible product that lives up to the hype.

  5. This reminds me so much of the VIPP Shelter. I feel that the VIPP is a bit better accustomed to the Nordic climate though, which only makes sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.