An Alternative Investment With (Wooden) Legs

If you get the notion to head to Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, you will see nestled on the periphery of the predictable craftsmans, bungalows and Martha’s Vineyard-esque properties a lone house that goes by the name of the Loblolly House.

Architected by KieranTimberlake Associates, LLP partners Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake, and named after the tall pines that surround it, the Loblolly house serves one simple purpose outside of acting as a residence: Design for disassembly.

Since the average home has a lifespan of less than 100 years, Kieran and Timberlake are seeking ways to build homes designed for disassembly. They believe that builders and architects should look at the future of the properties they design before building and look for ways to build responsibly using renewable resources.

The house, which was assembled in less than six weeks, relies on a solid aluminum frame to keep it sturdy. Kieran and Timberlake claim that the house will come down just as quickly and efficiently as it was built.

Architecturally, the design speaks to my inner art historian. It has the linearity of Mondrian, paired with the sterile but natural wooden influence of Frank Lloyd Wright, polished off with the modernity of Bauhaus’ Gropius.

Perhaps redeeming the ugly ceiling fans, is the design team’s (or photographer’s?) use of the Eames chair in the interior of the house. The design inspiration for ‘Kit of Parts’ comes largely from the Eames’ aesthetic.

The Loblolly House is made up of ‘smart cartridges’, which are floor and ceiling panels containing all of the utilities needed to make the home livable including electrical, heating and fire detection devices. The exterior and interior are completely made of wood (with the exception of the aluminum framing) that is Forest Stewardship Council-approved birch, bamboo or plywood. Its finish is entirely nontoxic.


Another interesting feature is the home’s positioning and foundation. Because it is built on structural piles and raised off the ground, it does not damage the coastal land on which it rests, nor does it disrupt the animals living nearby, as they can still pass underneath it.

I was encouraged to hear that the Loblolly House will go into mass production with Steve Glenn’s LivingHomes prefabricated development company, a milestone for the efforts of green developers worldwide.

And investors take note: The idea of environmentally responsible, portable and prefabricated homes is an intriguing one, especially considering the amount of interest the Loblolly House has generated (they are producing a book in May, Loblolly House: Elements of a New Architecture). I expect we will hear considerably more about Kieran Timberlake in the near future.

*All images are courtesy of KieranTimberlake Associates, LLP

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4 comments:

May 11, 2015 at 3:13 PM Ellis Colton said...

I enjoy looking at environmentally responsible, portable and prefabricated homes. I was thinking of maybe building one for myself and the family when we finally get to buy one of those farms for sale north west.

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