Haliburton, Ontario, Canada
The New Wood Open Architecture Library prototype is located in Haliburton, Ontario, approximately 2 1/2 hours north-east of Toronto. The design-build project results from Michael Plummer’s Master of Architecture thesis from the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University. This project is an open-source parametric modular construction system that allows dwellers to participate in the design, fabrication and building processes. The system uses emerging information and fabrication technology, accessible to all degrees of self-builders. The New Wood Open Architecture Library uses emerging technology to increase participation in the process by which a dwelling is designed, fabricated, and appropriated to suit the needs of those who dwell within it. This design-build project is a research exploration testing the system at full scale.
The modular components that form part of a larger 12x12’x8’ (3.66x3.66x2.44m) module were prefabricated in a nearby garage throughout the winter months. The open-source system is accessible to amateur builders because it uses standardized lumber products widely available throughout North America. The rigorous 2’ (610mm) grid forms the framework for which customization can occur. The 12x12’ module represents the open support structure by which the intermediate components, such as windows, doors and solid panels, can be customized to suit the needs and preferences of the dweller.
When working outside is enjoyable during the summer months, the prefabricated floors components were carried by hand to the site and placed onto a pre-installed foundation. Next, the 8’(2.44m) wall components were fastened to form a rigid corner post. Pre-laminated lintels were then installed to span between the four posts. From here, additional wall components or a roof component can be added to complete the envelope.
The New Wood Open Architecture Library prototype exemplifies New Wood Open Architecture through its commitment to involving the dweller throughout the entire dwelling process, resulting in a resilient and sustainable dwelling. The dwelling process is curated and customized using emerging information and fabrication technology based on unique dwelling needs and preferences. It allows the dweller to impose their individuality on the resulting built form. Throughout this process, the system uses a high level of participation as an opportunity to educate the dweller about the sourcing, harvesting and manufacturing of wood products in Canada. The system itself makes use of these standardized and modular products to build resilient and sustainable dwellings. As dwelling needs change over time, the construction system is responsive and expands to facilitate more uses. The components from the previous dwelling are all reused in the construction of the next dwelling. This sequence establishes a circle pattern of material reuse that significantly reduces waste compared to conventional construction waste. The scale and modularity of components mean they aid in meeting a variety of housing needs. Whether the system replaces a deteriorating front porch or develops a multi-family residential building, the resulting architecture remains resilient and responsive to both the community’s and dweller’s housing needs as they change over time.