July 12, 2024

KJ Home

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Raw Plywood Is One of the Only Finishes in This Prefab Home

3 min read

Houses We Love: Every day we feature a remarkable space submitted by our community of architects, designers, builders, and homeowners. Have one to share? Post it here.

Project Details:

Location: Tiny, Ontario, Canada

From the Architect: “Unfinished House is a two bedroom, two bathroom 1,400 square foot home in Canada that is a prototype for panelized prefabricated construction with a high-performance envelope (lots of insulation and very airtight) and a low-carbon foundation.

“The name ‘Unfinished House’ refers to an aesthetic attitude, an approach to material reduction, and budget restraint that leaves parts of the design incomplete. Self-finishing materials were selected to reduce resources and reveal the building’s construction. Tile and plywood are the only added “finishes”; They cover areas with wiring and plumbing. The house looks raw and unvarnished, but a clear matte natural oil was applied to the interior wood.

“The design language, materiality and color selection of the home is taken from rural Ontario forms and beach house vernacular as the area mixes farms, seasonal homes and year-round residences. Wire rope netting on the mezzanine is a nautical reference and maximizes natural light and ventilation. A vintage chrome porthole window brings light into the second-floor den.

“Unlike many contemporary projects, there is a purposeful restraint in glazing. This is a suburban-scaled site, but with the careful window placement there is a feeling of being alone in a forest. Windows are placed to maximize cross-ventilation from the lake breezes.

“Navy blue pops up on sliding doors, the bar counter, tiles and grout. The kitchen paint, cabinets and tile are color-matched robin’s egg blue. The same color is echoed in the painted ridge beam. A buttery yellow grout in the kitchen ties together the exposed wood studs, birch plywood edges and window frame. Small details make for comfortable living and energy reduction. For example, eyebolts welded onto exterior steel columns support a clothesline for hanging beach towels, laundry and shades to the south.

“The home has a self-contained in-law suite that can be closed off from the rest of the house. During summer and winter holidays there are large groups of visitors – the location is steps from a public beach on Georgian Bay and cross-country skiing trails. An internal sliding door connects the two units, the kitchenette, and then doubles as a bar close to the screened porch. A partial second floor has a den and a home office that are both used for guest accommodations, as is the screened porch when weather permits.

“The building is an all-timber structure with cellulose and wood fiber board insulation. Many of the materials were locally-produced including the wood framing, plywood, corrugated metal, and wood cladding. Infrastructure has been roughed-in for on-site renewables to be added on the south roof slope when the owner’s budget allows.

“Our studio does not typically take on private house projects as we are primarily focused on public buildings and social housing. We were interested in this project because we wanted to test construction methods – including using Passive House-standard prefabricated wall and roof panels – that we could later apply to a range of larger-scale building types.

“This house is custom-designed for its site. It is prefabricated – which means offsite construction. It does not mean that it is designed to be repeated. We used panelized prefabrication (not volumetric modular or a kit of repeatable parts). Panelized prefab means that instead of being framed on site, the house comes flat-packed on a truck, a jigsaw puzzle of 8-to-16 foot-wide pieces that have the structure, insulation, and vapor barrier all pre-assembled.”

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