Pine is What Gives This Modern Modular Home its Warmth and Comfort

For a long time, modular buildings didn’t have the greatest reputation. Many people associated them with cheap, lightweight steel structures that fail to stand the test of time, looking shabby in just a few years. But today, the process of prefabricating sections of a building in a warehouse and transporting them to the site for assembly has evolved, incorporating many different types of materials and adapting to exciting new designs. Modern modular buildings are often more environmentally friendly than conventional construction, as well as faster and more economical to build. 

There’s one thing that many modular buildings still lack, however, and that’s a sense of warmth and character. When a structure sits so lightly upon the landscape that it seems almost ephemeral, it needs some solidity and connection to nature to make it feel grounded. That’s where wood comes in. This vacation home by Chilean architectural studio Max-A demonstrates how wood (specifically pine) can make a building feel so much more comforting and welcoming than if it were made of colder, harder materials like steel, glass and concrete.

Located on the edge of Chile’s fourth-largest lake, the Casa Tobita home was designed to be easily constructed by local builders on a tight budget using local materials. Lead architect Noguera Balmaceda chose pine because it’s locally grown and harvested, affordable and adds texture and character to both the interior and exterior. The pine-clad volumes are elevated off the ground and placed several feet below the separate roof structure, protecting them from the weather.

All of the interior spaces are lined with pine on the floors, walls and ceilings, stained in different tones for a natural, organic-feeling color palette that complements the views out the many windows. Outside, the pine siding is treated with a gray oil stabilizer that protects the wood and gives it a dramatic blackened appearance.

“By designing with modules, we not only reduce waste but also accelerate the construction process, making it possible to have the finished home in short time frames,” says Balmaceda. “Using predefined measurements allowed us to work with locally produced wood and play with fitting programmatic needs into these dimensions while not losing spatial quality.”

Modernist Long Island Home Made of Glass & Pine

Modernist Long Island home glass and pine facade

Following the grand traditions of some of the 20th century’s greatest architects, this modernist home in Amagansett, New York features a simple rectangular silhouette and generous expanses of glass. But architect Jerome Engelking’s contemporary twist gives what might otherwise just be a transparent glass box both privacy and shade. Taking inspiration from the tree-dotted landscape, Engelking wraps the retreat in a screen of vertical pine.

The result feels both open to the tranquil, private setting within Stony Hill Forest and protected from the elements (and, if the home were located in a more populated area, the eyes of passersby as well.) 

Modernist Long Island home glass and pine privacy
Modernist Long Island home glass and pine living room

“The house is made from a unique, repetitive module,” says the architect. “This module is itself dematerialized, reduced down to its outer frame. This subtractive strategy highlights the tactile qualities of the carefully curated palette of materials: unadorned wood, glass, and concrete. The design of the house balances the use of modular fabrication and the craft of traditional construction methods. With its simple geometry and minimal use of materials, natural light becomes the prominent element defining the space, celebrating the ever-changing seasons and the remarkable wooded vistas.”

Modernist Long Island home glass and pine interior

The architect wanted the choice of timber to shine inside and out, “letting the structural material speak for itself.” Within the home’s minimalist interiors, pine sheathing creates an interesting textural surface that eliminates the need for drywall, paint or ceiling surfaces, providing “a warm counterpoint to the minimal design.” 

Modernist Long Island home glass and pine. columns
Modernist Long Island home glass and pine

Engelking wanted strong engineered pine elements that could function as both architectural mullions (the vertical divisions between the panels of glass) and structural columns, ultimately sourcing them from Canadian manufacturer IC2. This is part of what gives the home its lightweight, delicate feel. At night, interior lights shine between the louvers of the facade, giving the home a cozy and inviting glow.

The World’s Largest Timber Log School Building Modernizes a Classic Style

world's largest timber log school building

Traditional timber-based building methods get a fresh spin with a 118,400-square-foot complex planned for a former garrison area in Helsinki, Finland. AOR Architects won a competition to design the Tuusula High School and Community Center with their streamlined design, set to become the world’s largest timber log school. Not only do the logs give the building a feeling of solidity and gravitas, they’ll help decrease carbon emissions produced during the construction process and throughout the lifespan of the structures.

“Being an organic and breathable building material, wood also improves the quality of interior air and acoustics,” notes AOR in their description of the project.

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The school will provide a new learning environment incorporating flexible, multi-functional open-plan spaces where various school subjects can overlap. Many of the basic learning spaces occupy informal, open areas of the main building’s lobby spaces rather than closed-off classrooms as “a way to create a sense of community, share resources and promote collaboration and interaction between different groups of society.”

The complex consists of five singular buildings that come together to form a whole. AOR refers to these buildings as ‘log houses’ set along interior pedestrian ‘streets’ to create the sense of a miniature city.

Have you noted any cool commercial or public projects making use of log construction lately? Let us know on Facebook.

Dramatic Black Exterior Contains a Cozy Modern Pine Cabin

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Black-painted building exteriors certainly aren’t for everyone. But what some onlookers might characterize as harsh, dark, drab or even creepy, others find stylish and soothing, a beautiful contrast against the vivid greens and blues of the forest and sky. The striking black exterior of this modern cabin, with its asymmetrical silhouette and seemingly impenetrable facade, is a bit intimidating from the outside. But check out the interiors, and you might just fall in love.

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From the outset, architects Ruca Proyectos had their work cut out for them. The cabin is set within the a forest outside Coyhaique in Chilean Patagonia along the River Simpson, and would have to stand up to year-round harsh conditions, including heavy rainfall, severe cold and lots of snow, even in spring and autumn. They raised ‘La Quimera House’ off the ground to protect it, and painted it black to help it absorb and retain warmth from sunlight.

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Inside, the house is made almost entirely of local pine wood, which covers the walls, floors and ceilings and makes up much of the furniture, including a line of built-in bunk beds. You wouldn’t guess from the photos, but every choice the architects made was based on the clients’ low budget, scarce labor availability and a lack of modern building technology in the area. Much of the pine you see in these photos is grooved plywood.

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With all that warm pine and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the mountains, this sweet modern cabin in the woods manages to feel pretty luxurious. It’s a beautiful testament to what you can achieve when you think creatively, even if you don’t have a lot of funds to work with.

Modern Pine Home in Finland Puts a New Twist on the Classic Log Cabin

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What does a modernized version of a log cabin look like? In Finland, a forest home by architecture firm Pluspuu Oy gives us one beautiful example, stacking thick laminated pine logs with modern mitered corner joints and a design that prioritizes natural light and views of the landscape outside. One entire wall consists of floor-to-ceiling windows so inhabitants can look out onto the lake through the surrounding trees.

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The architects note that they built the house to withstand frosty temperatures that can dip as low as -22 degrees in winter, with geothermal heat as the source of warmth. Unlike in traditional log buildings, there are no overlaps or visible cross corners in the logs that make up the exterior and interior walls.

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“The 202x205mm laminated timber log consists of three-layer glued pine – the hard heartwood always forms the outer layer,” they explain. “In Finland, logs are also used for constructing schools and kindergartens, for example, these days. The most important criterion for using timber logs in the construction of public buildings is the clean and healthy indoor air in the log house.”

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“The windows are triple-glazed thermal glass. Blown-in wood fiber insulation, made of a material as breathable as timber logs, is used for the roof insulation. So we can talk about a truly ecological construction approach.”

Modern Pine: Cantilevered Home Redefines Rural Architecture

cantilevered pine home

When you think of buildings you’re likely to see set in grassy meadows out in the country, it’s likely farmhouses, barns and other conventional rural buildings that come to mind. But K_M Architektur subverts that expectation with ‘House Dornbirn,’ a modern pine-clad residence overlooking the Rhine Valley, Lake Constance and the Vorarlberg Mountains in Austria. Its upper volume is stacked upon the lower one, creating an overhang that provides shade and makes the balcony feel like it’s projecting out into the landscape.

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Each level of the home is made of a different material for a dramatic visual contrast. The bottom floor is tucked into the hillside, its walls composed of concrete to improve thermal mass. It contains the garage and entrance. The middle level features beautiful pine siding and contains the bedrooms and a studio, while the copper-clad top level hosts common areas.

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Local white pine wood is used throughout the home, including the floors and ceilings of the interiors and the balcony area. The wood located outside will be allowed to age and weather naturally, silvering over time.

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“Thanks to this wooden facade, which has already weathered to a light gray color, the building fits in harmoniously with the surrounding area,” say the architects. “The house was designed according to strict considerations of sustainability, involving the ecological quality of the materials and choices such as a solar hot-water system, geo-thermal heating and a stove in the living area.”