cusabo island cabin :: green fair 2009

Hilke Development showcased the Cusabo Island Cabin at the recent South Carolina Green Fair in Charleston.  The purpose of the event is “…to create excitement and enthusiasm for green products, services and technologies available to the residents of South Carolina using an environmentally responsible forum of education and entertainment.”   Ben Hilke was there to talk about all of the Sustainable strategies that have been used in the cabin, helping the clients live as “off the grid” as possible.

Visit to find out more about the house and the Sustainable components that have been included.   Ben is located in Charleston, South Carolina, and is always available to answer questions about Sustainability and Construction. 

cusabo island cabin :: shutters

One of the big design ideas for the Cusabo Island Cabin included a series of large sliding metal doors, which would allow the cabin to be opened up when the weather was nice, but be shut down completely when big storms rolled in off of the Coast.   In addition, these shutters were meant to be insulated, so that closing them at night would further insulate the structure during the colder months.   We conceived of these shutters as a design element, with large steel panels allowed to rust before clear sealing them, creating a deep red mottled patina across the face of the structure.  

The large doors slide on Barn Door Hardware, mounted to a track that spans the length of the house, supported on the big steel beams.  The steel angles you see above are designed to filter the harsh summer sun, while letting the lower, winter sun into the house.

cusabo island cabin :: solar panels

Construction on the Cusabo Cabin continues with the installation of the PV Solar array, and the Solar Thermal system.    The system is in working order, connecting the Photovoltaic Panels to the Batteries, and the Solar Thermal to the Hot Water Storage tank, both located in the Mechanical Room.   The first photo below shows the PV panels, attached to the standing seams on the metal roof.   The south facing roof is the optimum angle to get year round sun energy, continually charging the batteries in the Mechanical room.


The above tubes are solar thermal tubes which are mounted to the metal roof.   These evacuated tubes are filled with a solar working fluid, which is pumped back to the manifold in the Mechanical Room, where heat is exchanged with the water in the Hot Water Tank.   The resulting hot water is to be used for both Domestic Hot Water and for the Hydronic Radiant Heat in the floors.   Note that this system will be efficient in the winter months, so should provide ample heat for the space.

FabHouse Urban :: Update

We are working hard finalizing the Schematic Design for the Urban FabHouse. The goal is to have the project priced out to see what the costs would be for a full prefab installation. Hopefully we will be ready to go into production this Fall to construct a house for the Central District neighborhood here in Seattle.

Below are some images of the plans and elevations. You can scroll down to an earlier post to see the Sketchup model.

FabHouse :: Island House

Woollen|Studio is currently working on a 1000 s.f., 3BR/2BA prefab house, in collaboration with Joss Hudson of Ecosteel.   The goal is to make the design as simple as possible, and as efficient as possible both structurally and spacially, in order to make this an incredibly affordable alternative for people looking for a second home.

One potential project that is in the works is a resort community in Panama.   We see these “Eco-Cabins” being designed for maximum cost efficiency, but with all the amenities of a luxury villa.   The cabin is designed with a clean, contemporary design aesthetic, utilizing the Ecosteel system for the cost effective, highly energy efficient, fast construction.  Sustainable options such as solar panels, radiant floor, geothermal heat, water catchment systems, and green materials will be included on a case by case basis.    Amenities will include a private side patio, covered deck,  lap pool, and hot tub.

Below are some preliminary design images.   We are still in the early design stages, but feel that there is definitely a market for this type of house.  

Fab-House :: Urban Version

In addition to the Fab House, the prefab house that is mainly designed for remote sites, we decided to look at creating a project for an Urban lot.  In Seattle, this is typically a 30′ x 100′, and there are strict zoning requirements defining the side, front and rear setbacks, as well as the allowable height limit.     While the rural house has been designed as a kit of parts, we decided that because of the size restraints of the urban lot, it might be possible to create a project that could also be constructed off site and brought in as a true prefab house.

Below are some images from the sketchup model.   We are hoping to have pricing for this model soon, so feel free to contact us directly at


cusabo :: concrete floors

The concrete floors have been poured out at the Cusabo Island Cabin, no small task given the remoteness of the site.   Hilke Development had quite a job getting the bags of concrete out to the site, mixing the concrete in small batches, and pouring the floors in sections divided by metal edges.  

If you are new to this site, the project is located “off the grid” on a small island in the Barrier Island area near Charleston, SC.    The only access to the site is by boat, (or helicopter, which we used to transport the majority of the prefab parts manufactured by Ecosteel). 

 The results of their efforts can be seen in the photo below.   Within the concrete are radiant tubes connected to the hot water heater, which is supplied in part by Solar Thermal Panels on the roof.   Although not yet installed, the plan is to have a wood burning fireplace with the ability to become a supplemental heat source for the in floor radiant system.

I am excited because I will be going down to the site next week to see the progress and hopefully get some good photos for the blog.   We also have some potential new clients I am going to connect with while in the Charleston area, which is always fun and exciting.