January 27, 2014

Model T as Metaphor

Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake inside Cellophane House 
© Peter Aaron/OTTO

Toronto's The Globe and Mail interviewed Partner Stephen Kieran recently about KieranTimberlake's quest to transform architecture via off-site fabrication. He and Partner James Timberlake envision factory-building complex, custom modules, then shipping them to site for assembly—similar to the process used to manufacture a car. Two prototypes—Loblolly House and Cellophane House—have already been successfully constructed, and an environmentally friendly concept house for India is currently in development.  
Kieran compared the process to the evolution of the early automobile: “Henry Ford transformed the economics of a whole industry...With a $400 car, you were into a whole new model to change the world. But it took him a lot of prototypes. The Model T is called that because it's the 19th letter in the alphabet, and he had 18 failures.” This evening, January 27, Kieran will deliver the keynote lecture for the ar.chi.tect* symposium (titled "Redefining the Profession") at Toronto's Ryerson University. He will also participate in the symposium tomorrow, January 28, at the Design Exchange in Toronto.

Constructing Architecture's Model T  
By Alex Bozikovic 
If you read design blogs and magazines, the world of contemporary buildings looks deeply sophisticated. High-end architecture incorporates clever engineering, computer-controlled manufacturing, and the weaving together of many materials into complex, considered shapes. 
But so does a $16,000 compact car. And guess which one is more likely to leak water on your head? The one that is built outdoors with saws and welding torches. 
Making buildings as intelligently as we make cars – that is the challenge American architectural firm KieranTimberlake has taken on, and it is dragging the construction industry into the 21st century. Partner Stephen Kieran expects the change will be slow. Until it isn't.

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