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Cellophane House celebrates SmartWrap building skin

Projects | September 1, 2008 | By:

New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) brings prefabricated houses into focus in its new exhibition, “Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling.” Among five houses built in the MoMA’s outdoor space is the five-story Cellophane House made of transparent, recyclable materials designed by KieranTimberlake Associates LLP, Philadelphia, Pa.

The outer walls are NextGen SmartWrap™, a building skin developed by KieranTimberlake of transparent PET laminated with thin-film photovoltaic cells that capture sunlight and provide electricity to the house. An inner layer of solar heat and UV-blocking film lets daylight in while bouncing solar heat gain back out. James Timberlake says Cellophane House’s low-voltage and energy-efficient lighting, climate-control features and mass production components give it versatility and off-the-grid power consumption. The house is built on an aluminum structural frame as a matrix on which other fabricated elements are attached. Held together by bolts rather than welds, nails or glue, the house can easily be modified and disassembled.

“Because we designed the house without a site, we were able to speculate about mass customization,” says Timberlake. “How the house could exist on an urban versus a rural site, and in different climates, how it could be made as a single- or multi-family dwelling, and how the materials and floor plans could be varied to suit the needs of the inhabitants, were all considerations.” The exhibit is on display through October 20, 2008. For more information about KieranTimberlake’s SmartWrap technology and modular designs, visit

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