Home Delivery Part III: Cellophane House and Micro-Compact House

| Jan 22, 2009
by: Mrinalini Rajagopalan 

{Top: Architect James Timberlake speaks to tour participants about his design for the Cellophane house/ Center: Looking into the “living” space of the Micro-Compact House/ Bottom: The Cellophane House as seen from the patio of Burst *008}
Perhaps the most novel aspect of the exhibition were the five full-scale replicas of prefab houses erected on a 54th street lot in Manhattan. The first stop on the second half of the tour was the Cellophane House (designed by Kieran Timberlake Associates) where James Timberlake who led tour members through the house cited inspirations for the design as ranging from Le Corbusier’s L’Espirit Npuveau (for its attempt to deliver modular living to an occupant); Buckminister Fuller’s Dyamaxion House (as a provocation to lifestyle norms); Jean Prouve’s Maison Tropicale (for its innovation in terms of assembly and disassembly); and Phillip Johnson’s Glass House and Richard Meier’s glass condominiums in New York (for their expansive use of transparent surfaces). Even as it draws upon these influences the Cellophane House also responds to contemporary issues such as green building practices, sustainability, and the recycling of buildings materials. The house itself is designed in what the architects call “chunks”–prefab components which are then bolted onto the structural steel-frame via moment connections. 70% of the Cellophane house was erected in 6 days and the rest of the construction was completed over the course of two weeks.
Micro-Compact House (Horden Cherry Lee Architects) was a 76-square foot gem in the middle of the 54th Street lot. Envisioned as temporary housing unit for the global traveler, student or single urban resident, the brushed aluminum surfaces and the modular design which lends itself easily to stacking of multiple units of the house belie influences from the British high-tech movement (Richard Rogers and Norman Foster) as well as the Japanese metabolists (such as Kisho Kurokawa’s Nagakin Capsule Tower in Tokyo). At a total 76 square-feet, Professor Barry Bergdoll suggested that the Micro-Compact House might be considered the ideal dwelling of the future designed for the “person who could give up all possessions because they had e-mail.”

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