Gallery: PREFAB FRIDAY: Loblolly House


We first got excited about Kieran Timberlake Associates’ Loblolly House over a year ago, when it was still just the promising conceptual brainchild of the Philadelphia-based firm. The Loblolly House has since been completed (AND featured in the January 2007 issue of Wired as one of seven “green and high-tech” projects), and demonstrates a truly unique approach to prefab and an eye-catching aesthetic to boot. Named for the tall pine trees native to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland site, the Loblolly House represents a non-traditional, component-based approach to prefab construction, in which a “kit-of-parts,” much like in automotive assembly, can be unbolted and rebuilt in different configurations for a different site or house. These “Elements of Architecture,” as KTA calls them, range in size and function, from the prefab room modules to the aluminum frame, green roof, and coffered floor system.

Photos by Barry Halkin

Kieran Timberlake Associates have long been pioneers of the sustainable architecture movement, constantly finding new ways to mitigate environmental impact and quietly integrate green technologies into comfortable spaces. The Loblolly House is built on raised structural pilings to reduce site disruption, and all materials are both supplied and produced within 500 miles of the site. Aside from their sustainable construction processes, the house boasts a lengthy list of green technologies, from the green roof to high-performance wall and skins and natural ventilation.

The most exciting new news? The Loblolly house is slated to go into mass production with Steve Glenn’s Living Homes prefab development company – meaning some day admirers will be able to purchase their own version of this gorgeous home at an affordable price.

+ Kieran Timberlake Associates

Via Treehugger Via WIRED

Photos by © Barry Halkin


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  1. Inhabitat » New G... March 21, 2008 at 5:42 am

    […] conscious, award winning architects Kieran Timberlake always manages to amaze us with stunning residential designs that define the true synthesis of green building and architectural excellence. We’ve also been […]

  2. Stef August 20, 2007 at 5:16 am

    This wood frontage is quite simply sublime!(destructuration?) Very elegant, I love it, Thanks!

  3. CoolBoom » Blog A... June 23, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    […] inhabitat Filed under Interior Design, Architecture  |  RSS […]

  4. Lost in Anywhere »... June 21, 2007 at 12:48 am

    […] Inhabitat » PREFAB FRIDAY: Loblolly House […]

  5. Carol April 16, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    absolutely awesome and spectacular view

  6. Scott March 28, 2007 at 3:47 am

    That ceiling just kills it for me :( Random linear strip wood exterior combined with structured, regular patterned windows on the front facade ruined by that stepped panel ceiling! I’m sure a better solution could have been found (and don’t get me started on those butt ugly ceiling fans!) without repeating either of the fenestration schemes of the facades.

  7. goarch76 January 31, 2007 at 11:06 am

    jf Suzzarini – The structure isn’t steel, it’s extruded aluminum, which allows for MUCH tighter tolerances than either wood or steel, which both require a fair amount of field measurement, shimming, etc. The tolerances on this house are in the range of just a couple millimeters. This allows all the house’s elements to be designed and fabricated without the added time/effort/money required for field measurement or verification. Try that with wood or steel! As for insulation, stressed skin insulated panels are significantly more efficient that a standard stud wall with batt insulation, to say nothing of the cinder block construction you Euros are so fond of.

  8. jf Suzzarini January 17, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    @€ric : The main question is not about glazing. We know how to make really efficient ones. I myself use large openings in the houses I build.The question is about the structure itself , made of steel, which is not know for being thermaly efficient nor comfortable. It seems funny to me to see USA, known for being the country of wood houses building this type of construction, when some european countries rediscover the advantages of wood !

  9. Eric January 11, 2007 at 9:22 am

    >> What can be the thermal efficiency of such a construction ?

    >> i wonder whether it would be able to keep the cold out

    I propose a Inhabitat window/glazing topic for a future date. Notable preafbs from the lower priced LV up to luxury models like the those of Marmol Radziner feature significant stretches of glass. I’m a glass fan myself so it’s with some consternation that I continue to see the above questions repeated with little or no response. Glass can be really effecient if done properly so it could be interesting. Just a thought.

  10. cj January 10, 2007 at 10:08 am

    I love it!. like Zoe says, how much?. Althought it looks awsome and appears to be comfortable, i wonder whether it would be able to keep the cold out. it looks like it could be daafty during the colder months.

  11. Tony January 8, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Lots of questions as to affordability. This house could never become affordable if no one takes the plunge to build the first one. Sure, this one was somewhat expensive ( it’s all relative) when thought of in finished square foot living area. However, during this process multiple complexities and strategies were worked out and the systems are now capable of being supplied, manufactured or assembled efficiently for quick site installation.
    Oddly enough the modules, even in this original house, were less expensive, of (I believe) higher quality, and quicker to build than if they were to be constructed on site with skilled labor. This is mainly due to ” building it twice”. First, in a 3D computer model where all structural, mechanical and finish details are perfected, Second in the shop where it becomes as simple as outputting for CNC cutting, producing the sub-assemblies and installing finishes. Site time (which is notorious for wreaking havoc on schedules, and therefore costs) is minimized and quality control is set to a higher standard. Further unknowns such as skill levels, weather delays and scheduling conflicts are minimized or removed from the process.

  12. jf Suzzarini January 8, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    For a European, it looks fragile, unfinished, anti-ecological (steel structure and aluminium windows) and unconfortable ! What can be the thermal efficiency of such a construction ? Energy in The USA is cheap but carbon pollution is the same everywhere all over the world.

  13. Julie Niemeyer January 8, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    I love it but what is “affordable”? Replace round pretreated poles with steel piling for more streamlined look and added durability.

  14. Nicky Chang January 8, 2007 at 1:50 am

    two concerns: maintainence of the poles and, yet again, cost. that includes transportation of the parts and on site assembly labor. hope the poor interns/grad school students aren’t part of the budget this time.

  15. Matthew January 6, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    A lot of architects and designers hung up on modern lines could learn a lot from this house; it manages to maintain clean modern lines without being cold and sterile.

  16. John Johnson January 6, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Beautiful! Looking to retire to Honolulu would love to have something like this there. How much is it?

  17. Richie January 6, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Nice design. Definitely a step forward. A few comments/thoughts:

    1) Importing skilled labor to create the kitchen & bathroom areas probably would have been more cost effective than fabricating them as ‘modules’ offsite. If large segments were able to be trucked to the site, and once there, hoisted into place by heavy machinery… bringing in mobile homes, or trailers, for temporay worker housing probably was doable ? Certainly, these mobile dwelling units would be no larger than the machinery used to transport and hoist the ‘modules’ and cladding into place ?

    2) Grass growing on the roof would appear to do away with rainwater catchment from the roof into cisterns ? I think that not being able to ‘harvest’ rainwater is a minus.

    3) I’m of the impression that treated wood ‘utility poles’ only have a lifespan of about 50 years before rot and termites require their replacement. Accordingly, doing what is routinely done in the tropics, which is to use hollow core Aluminum ‘utility poles’, might have been a better choice ?

    Essentially, what this design is is an aluminum ‘moment frame’ set atop a pole frame ‘cradle’, which is then clad with a panelized system. Overall… a very good idea !

  18. girl600 January 6, 2007 at 11:17 am

    I’m glad I subscribed to your email list. This is great. I’ll be posting this one on my page. I’m hoping I can ride by there and see it one day.

  19. Jesse January 6, 2007 at 12:53 am

    First, more credit needs to go to the builders of the Loblolly. KTA has the big ideas and the aesthetic, but they went to Bensonwood in NH for the execution and the systems:

    Bensonwood is a strange company, an incredibly sophisticated panelizing / modular / systems company hidden behind a traditional timber framing aesthetic.

    I’m an architect, and without a contractor as an equal partner, you can’t move projects this off paper and out into the world… KT has produced something special here, but they were part of a larger team that also deserves recognition.

  20. Steve January 5, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Looks quite nice. I agree that the round pilings look out of place on a house that is made up of so many right angles. the “house up on pilings” is quite common in coastal areas, noting new about that in this setting. That concept will be a harder sell inland where folks love their basements. Most of the impact to the ground below is coming from the septic system I’d wager. Another hard sell to the local homeowner association will be the unique look of the side elevation.

  21. Scott January 5, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Very nice. I don’t like the pilings either, look kinda scary. I’m sure that’s variable though.

  22. Adam January 5, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    I think this is a very lovely piece of work. That said, the kit of parts idea DOES go back to the Eamses. In fact, the Eamses substantially redesigned their own iconic case study house when Ray decided that she liked the meadow portion of their property too much to build on it. They went back to the drawingboard and reconfigured the house, using only the parts they had already ordered. This is the legend, at least. I am wondering what reconfigurations of this kit of parts might look like.

  23. Pedro January 5, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    I spotted the Eames lounger too. You should know by now that those are just set dressing by the photographer. It is in the Standard Modern House Photography Kit. I saw Timberlake lecture a few months ago, and this house is by far the most interesting project in their current portfolio.

  24. biff January 5, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    once again, another attempt at the trendy cliche ‘pre fab’. this project is so specific and customised. were else on this project would that balcony (2nd image) go. i doubt any capablilites of mass production and ‘pre fab’ embodies a level of economic value that is affordable, a notion that is forgetten by all these ‘prefab’ desingners/builders. why not just market it as a ‘loft’ space.

  25. Arthur January 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Nice. It’s very interesting that the interior photo includes those beautiful Eames chairs, since the idea of “Kit of Parts” in architecture, if i’m not mistaken, comes from them. It’s like a modern-day (well, like 40 years more modern) Eames House.

  26. Angelo January 5, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Very unique, site specific design. Not particularly into the telephone pole supports–they give an unfinished and cheap look to an otherwise elegant structure. I’ve read about the highly modular and component driven method used for this prefab. Very impressive. Anyone on the team care to elaborate on using Revit for the process?

    Also interested in the panels used for the ceilings and the canopy/storm shutter thingy.


  27. Zoe January 5, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    This is beautiful, but i must ask, how much??

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