Timberlink By Canadian Architect, Jonathan Enns

Developed by Jonathan Enns, Timberlink is a concept for a prefabricated building methodology utilizing solid timber. Balancing concerns of both economics and ecological impacts of construction, the project earned Enns a Lafarge-Holcim Sustainable Construction Award in 2014.

The goal of this project? To provide a maximum degree of customization while employing a minimum number of parts.

Enns details how the Timberlink concept might be applied to address the challenges of two types of sites, both of equal importance within the Canadian context.




The first example, VILLA S, demonstrates how Timberlink could be used for urban infill where constrained site conditions make traditional methods of construction difficult and disruptive to neighbouring residents. The panelized nature of the Timberlink building method would allow for a quick and quiet assembly on site.



Enns’ proposed model for infill takes a typical Victorian era Toronto lot as the site and would take 13 Timberlink panels to construct. The structural qualities of the panels would allow the second and third floors (supplying around 1,200 square feet of interior space) to be suspended over an entryway occupying a small footprint on the ground floor, allowing for cars or bikes to be easily stored.




In contrast, VILLA M shows how the system might be applied to a remote site, where the challenges have more to do with limited road access and difficulty getting specialized labourers on location.

While shipping container homes are trendy, getting an 8 foot wide steel box onto a site along gravel bush roads is not always a viable option. The panelized approach of Timberlink provides a solution that can be assembled quickly but is far more compact to move.




In this case, the proposed structure, at a size of 2,300 square feet, would utilize 30 Timberlink panels. Similarly to VILLA S, the ground floor is small and used predominantly as an entrance area, though VILLA M is much larger, and features a mudroom, a storage space, along with a powder room. The larger second and third floors are cantilevered above the ground level, with functional elements requiring plumbing, and other services, that run clustered in the structure’s centre.

Other than scale, the chief difference between these structures is the angle at which the floors are stacked. For example, the compact VILLA S stacks squarely to fit neatly within a tight urban grid, whereas the off-kilter stacking of the VILLA M seems to blend more readily with a natural setting.

All these pieces make me think of Jenga, the popular kid's wooden tower block game. In fact, I wonder if Enns got his inspiration for these models from Jenga!




While still conceptual, the Timberlink system offers a promising “in between” level of prefabrication, allowing for the kind of maximization of material utilization that can happen with a mass produced product but still facilitating a high degree of customization.

How fantastic is that?

Browse more of Jonathan Enn’s research-based design work.


Curious to learn more about Canadian prefabricated housing? Here's some other posts on houseporn.ca you might enjoy:

Stunning Modular Homes By Karoleena Homes In BC

Prefabricated Homes By Toronto’s Meka Modular Buildings

Eco-Conscious Shipping Container Homes, Designed By Zigloo.ca In Victoria, British Columbia


All images property of the designer.

This article was researched and written by Miranda Corcoran, a recent OCAD graduate of Industrial Design and Digital Media, and the founder of CURRENTFORM.

Posted In: Canada, Ontario

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