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.”
You don’t see many wooden houses shaped like this, do you? Adopting a silhouette more commonly seen in ultramodern concrete architecture, the appropriately named “Curved House” was built in a short time period on a tight budget, but you’d never know by looking at it.
Architecture firm Daluz Gonzalez came up with a unique design to fit a small plot of land already occupied by the home of the clients’ parents. It had to fit just right into the limited space, but also appeal to the clients’ personal style.
Slotting into the yard, the new house can be approached from the existing house via a concrete pathway, and it’s built on a concrete basement foundation. But the entire house structure is made of wood, including the roof and the interiors. Black stained, narrow vertical siding covers every side of the irregular geometric shape, and the inside is clad in budget-friendly plywood, giving it a minimalist, contemporary yet warm feel.
Even on a more conventionally shaped house, these material choices would be striking. The black vertical siding is a bold choice, exuding drama. Inside, the plywood contrasts with the concrete to accentuate the staggered split-level layout, which is left open as a sky-lit atrium in the middle of the house.
Though we only get a peek of it, the existing house designed in the ‘80s by architect Max Schentz is unusual, too, with a semicircular shape (albeit more traditional finishing). The greenery and walkway separating the two houses prevents any sort of visual clash, and from above, as you can see in this drawing, the two shapes actually work together to create a larger, dynamic layout that takes full advantage of the irregular lot.
Built by M.R. Brewer using lumber from Hancock and featured on Houzz, this showcase of Eastern White Pine is a total dream home. Designed with a rustic mountain style that fits right into the forested setting, the craftsman-style home features Eastern White Pine exterior siding, as well as Eastern White Pine interior paneling, trim and wall coverings. The architects painted the siding graphite gray for a rocky tone that echoes the stone hardscaping outside, with a deep fir green trim accented by hints of a complementary golden brown.
Entitled ‘Lake House in Casco,’ the home is a treasure trove of custom millwork showing off the capabilities of Eastern White Pine. Nearly every interior surface, short of the countertops and chimney, is made of wood, with the pine’s characteristic knots adding a dynamic sense of texture to the overall composition of the home.
A charming house on Lake Joseph in Canada gets a warm, cozy and welcoming feel with shiplap pine interior siding, a classic choice for coastal residences. Residential design firm Kelly Barongave this summer residence a green renovation, adding additional square footage, a boat house and paneling that unifies the entire space and establishes a casual, timeless ambiance.
Shiplap siding consists of long, typically horizontal overlapping panels that tend to result in a very watertight structure, making it a popular choice for places with harsh climates for centuries. Used in an interior, it offers texture and pattern as well as a sense of craftsmanship.
In this residence, it’s used on the walls and ceiling throughout, including the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. An open window in the bedroom looks into the vanity area of the bathroom, which gets lots of natural light and complementary modern fixtures.
In the kitchen, handcrafted pine cabinets complete the look.
Wavy-edge siding has a bit more visual flair than standard siding, lending a rustic, hand-finished look with lots of charm. This type of siding leaves a bit of the wood’s natural character intact, cut at an angle along the log edge of the board. While it would be wholly expected on a rustic hunting cabin, it offers even more impact on a larger, more luxurious home, like this one on Lake Keowee in South Carolina.
Located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards is a luxury development filled with individually designed homes, each tailored to the individual needs and tastes of the owners but also reflecting the woodsy lakeside aesthetic.
This particular home, designed by Summerour Architects, features wavy-edged Eastern White Pine siding finished in Manchester tan to blend in with the natural surroundings. Accents of stone and brick, and lots of rich wooden details throughout the interior, enhance the cozy feel.
Virtually any mill or retailer offering Eastern White Pine lumber products can provide wavy-edged siding. Locate a lumber retailer at Nelma.org.
The character of Eastern White Pine shines through in every wooden surface of Sanctuary, a beautiful Shaker-style home in Burlington, Vermont. This 1,850-square-foot, three-bedroom home by Cushman Design Group is a sustainable getaway with rustic charm and contemporary comfort, featuring large plate-glass windows that look out onto the tranquil meadow setting.
The owners, Demaris Wehr and David Hart, wanted a design that would connect thematically and emotionally with the woodland Vermont setting. They showed the architects an image of a fairy house in Wales as inspiration, and the result is an inviting modernized interpretation. Cushman Design Group, of Vermont, often features Eastern White Pine in their creations, ranging from modern homes and historic-style barns to commercial interiors.
Locally harvested Eastern White Pine is the star of the show here, from the exterior siding to the kitchen cabinets. All natural wood surfaces in the home are treated with polymerized tung oil rather than oil-based urethanes for a greener finish that highlights the beauty of the wood.
All of these surfaces, including the shiplap ceiling and the wide-plank floors, were custom-built. The countertops are heart pine, procured from standing dead trees. The Eastern White Pine surfaces even extend to the furniture, with built-in dressers, shelving and bathroom vanities.