September 20, 2021
What could be better than a custom-designed home? It can be planned precisely to fulfill any whim or wish, with an architect standing by to turn customers’ visions into bespoke built form.
But one other thing also comes with custom houses–a huge price tag. That is, until now.
OpenHome—a new joint venture between the architecture firms KieranTimberlake and Lake|Flato and the prefabricated-home builder Bensonwood—is dedicated to creating a more accessible custom-home option, reports Fast Company.
By combining prefabricated elements with architect-guided custom design treatments, the system brings true dream-home design into the hands (and budgets) of the less than rich. . The design system can halve the time it would take to build a fully customized home, and can bring down the cost significantly.
Philadelphia-based KieranTimberlake, San Antonio-based Lake|Flato, and Walpole, New Hampshire-based Bensonwood came together in 2018 to develop the concept and began taking on design projects in the spring of 2020.
Working with an architect, homebuyers can define the spatial layout of their house and the types of rooms it will have by combining clusters from the OpenHome library. The pieces can be combined in a variety of shapes from narrow to wide; single- to double-story; in straight lines, perpendicular arrangements, or with interior courtyards.
Sun and seasonal modeling provide a sense for how the light will change in each room throughout the course of the year, and also will help fine-tune the construction needs to ensure the home meets the high insulation requirements of the Passive House standard.
“It’s a really effective tool for being able to operate at this pace,” KieranTimberlake’s Matt Krissel, project lead for OpenHome, recently told Fast Company. “And acknowledging that a lot of people don’t actually understand floorplans or building sections, being able to model and walk people virtually through from early design really enhances our ability to get feedback.”
Once the design is set, Bensonwood takes about two months to fabricate the panels in its factory. It also coordinates the building permit and work with a local contractor to begin laying the foundation and preparing for the on-site installation.
The first home KieranTimberlake designed through the OpenHome process is now under construction in New Hampshire. Krissel says each of the partners in the joint venture has at least one OpenHome project in the works. KieranTimberlake is starting work on a second design and aims to be able to take on three to five per year to start.
“The goal is to be able to do these in less than a year, if [clients] can actually make all the decisions this fast,” Krissel says. “It’s a bit idealized, but the goal is that it’s substantially faster from beginning to end.”
The system brings architect-designed homes within reach of clients without the budget for a fully custom home. It also brings new opportunities to architects. “Now,” Krissel says, “we can say yes to projects that don’t have that luxury of a time frame or budget.”
Research contact: @FastCompany