They were green before green was fashionable. They talked about prefabricated buildings when the concept was still on the counterculture fringe. But now ideas that architects James Timberlake and Stephen Kieran have been preaching for 25 years are gaining wide traction.
The Cellophane House, an innovative prefab dwelling designed by the duo’s Philadelphia firm, KieranTimberlake Associates, was chosen for the Museum of Modern Art’s “Home Delivery” exhibition this summer. With a simple steel frame and slip-in glass and polypropylene panels, the five-story structure can be assembled quickly and easily. Powered by photovoltaic cells, the house can function off the electricity grid. One of five structures that will be built in a lot next to MoMA, the Cellophane House appears featherlight, more window than frame.
“We make walls that are open to light, open to air, and open to volume,” says Timberlake. Indeed, the firm’s mission is nothing short of reinventing the wall. It’s part of their focus on developing methods and materials for sustainable modular design, the subject of their popular 2003 book, Refabricating Architecture.
This is a gratifying moment for the duo. They’ve been selected to create proposals for Brad Pitt’s high-profile New Orleans rebuilding project. The partners’ latest book—on their Loblolly House on Chesapeake Bay—comes out from Princeton Architectural Press in June. And in December they were given the distinguished Architecture Firm Award by the American Institute of Architects. Afterward Timberlake noted, “Every-thing seems to be coalescing.”
This Baroque gem in Munich, where Mozart’s Idomeneo received its première, reopens in June after a two-year restoration. First up: a performance of Idomeneo on June 18.