The world of prefab and modular homes.
  June 2007
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The Loblolly House: flat-pak with utilities

Link to The Loblolly House: flat-pak with utilities
© peter aaron

Steve Kieran's info_smallLoblolly House takes flat-pak prefab to a whole new level. Kieran's firm info_smallKieranTimberlake created a series of panels and structure that integrate all of the home's mechanical systems:

"The house is composed entirely of off-site fabricated elements and ready-made components, assembled from the platform up in less than six weeks....The aluminum scaffold system, coupled with an array of connectors, provide both the structural frame and the means to connect cartridges, blocks and equipment to that frame with only the aid of a wrench.

The assembly process begins with off-site fabricated floor and ceiling panels, termed 'smart cartridges.' They distribute radiant heating, hot and cold water, waste water, ventilation, and electricity through the house. Fully integrated bathroom and mechanical room modules are lifted into position. Exterior wall panels containing structure, insulation, windows, interior finishes and the exterior wood rain screen complete the cladding."

Integration of utilities into the home's "smart cartridges" sets the Loblolly apart. The full-module builders, like info_smallHive Modular, info_smallMarmol Radziner, and info_smallAlchemy Architects, integrate utilities into multi-room modules that are shipped to the site near-complete. But the companies delivering flat-packed products, like the info_smallLV Series homes from info_smallRocio Romero, require on-site work to incorporate utilities and finishes. The SIPs or stud-framed panels they ship generally incorporate little more than structure and insulation.

For the Loblolly House, this complete prefabrication was necessary to avoid large amounts of work on the sensitive site. The process even works in reverse:

"Just as the components may be assembled at the site swiftly with a wrench, so may they be disassembled swiftly, and most importantly, whole....It is a vision in which our architecture, even as it is disassembled at some unknown moment, can be relocated and reassembled in new ways from reclaimed parts."

Complementing the designs of Ray Kappe and David Hertz, info_smallLivingHomes plans to sell homes based on the system used in the Loblolly House. Also worth noting: Bosch produces the structural frame used for the Loblolly House and the TK iT House.

name: Loblolly House
style: modern
size: 2,200 sf
price: not yet for sale
method: flat-pak, with utilities incorporated into panels

(Hat tip:

Earlier coverage: Wired article on Plug and Play Construction (January); Architectural Record (April).

Related Posts:
   1. Loblolly designers win Firm of the Year (Dec 18, 2007)
   2. Loblolly in the Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer (Jul 17, 2007)
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