Home Delivery: Cellophane - Plastic fantastic!
by Jen / July 30, 2008

On the elevator to MoMA’s 6th floor gallery, I made small talk with a nice couple who turned out to be from Philly. Hey, me too! “Oh, then you must be here to see the Cellophane House,” they said, brimming with pride as we chatted about our hometown architecture heroes, KieranTimberlake Associates. The firm’s design did not disappoint; the five-story, two-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot building was the show’s largest. And the most tactilely nuanced, with an evanescent glow that comes courtesy of see-through plastic walls embedded with photovoltaics, a translucent 3Form floor lit from below, and acrylic stair treads embedded with LEDs—all of which attach, sans hardware, to an aluminum frame. Below, James Timberlake sheds light on the luminous design—and its bright future:

You designed Cellophane to be adaptable to numerous climatic conditions. Is there a location—the Alaskan tundra, beachside in Rio—where you’d love to see it permanently installed?
Actually, we designed Cellophane as siteless, meaning that the approach for MoMA works for New York City conditions—but would have to be studied for other locales. It is mass customizable, given the scaffold frame, to allow for a variety of adaptations. We would enjoy seeing Cellophane in all the locales you have suggested and have had inquiries from dozens of others.

+ momahomedelivery.org


You mentioned in your blog that, during the exhibit, you’ll be collecting data to measure the double-skin SmartWrap façade’s performance. How’s it faring so far?
Our first collection is coming later this month. We have to download the information, but will be blogging on the performance as we get additional data. I suspect we’ll have more to say in September/October.


Can you explain Building Information Modeling—a technology you enlisted to design Cellophane—in layman’s terms?
It is a comprehensive three-dimensional view of all of the elements making up the building. Sort of an X-ray that you can visually move around—except that you ‘build’ the model, not just take a snapshot. It incorporates as much detail as you wish to build into the model. We call it a ‘model’ because it is a representation of a building—not an actual building—until it’s built.


Among the design’s many innovations is the nature of its components: all off-the-shelf pieces, assembled offsite—and easily dismantled for reuse at the end of its lifecycle. What will happen to this particular home on October 21?
We are working on this concurrently with the show. We have discussed the possibility of auctioning the house. No details yet, but we will have a public announcement about this, we believe, in early September.


Note: For more information on Cellophane, pick up a copy of Princeton Architectural Press’s just-released book on the firm’s other genius prefab project, Loblolly House.




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