Family and friends helped build the main house from a prefab kit designed by architect Rocio RomeroJennifer Watson.
The Bless-Watson clan has been widely covered for daring to build a vacation home from a modern prefab kit in a region of the country where this is not common practice. Dwell, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have all covered their story of begging, bartering and mostly sweating to build a two-bedroom, one-bath house for $99,000. The result: Luminhaus (below), a glass-and-steel, Bauhaus-inspired home designed by architect Rocio Romero sitting atop six acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Amherst, Va.
Since the home's completion in 2003, Barry Bless, Jennifer Watson and their four children, who use the house and also rent it out to vacationers, have developed the land with hiking trails and resting spots, but they were somewhat stumped on how to build a shed that would compliment the home's design.
- Bless and Watson designed a frame "like a great, big open Japanese lantern," says Bless, so that light would filter through nearly unimpeded.
- One challenge was designing an open framework strong enough to hold the 800 pounds of earth required to sustain the green roof.
- In addition to its translucent properties, the corrugated fiberglass also serves to echo the corrugated metal fronting the main house on the property.
- Bless and Watson would like to build another prefab home one day with a green roof, so they decided to do a test run atop the new shed.
"In putting Luminhaus in the woods like that we realized that interior lighting isn't only functional on the inside but also from the outside," Bless says.
The home's illuminating properties sparked the idea for a glowing shed. Soon Watson discovered translucent cement in an exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, and she and Bless loved the idea, but the cost was prohibitive. Closer to home, a greenhouse exhibit at the state fair led them to a more practical solution: translucent corrugated fiberglass panels.
The material was affordable and durable enough for their needs, and its wavy design lent the shed a Japanese-lantern-like look.
"Visitors will use it as a lamp, ambient light and a sculptural element in the garden," says Bless. And now, thanks to a finishing touch, guests can turn it on via a switch in the main house.
The family's new glowing shed was constructed to look like a Japanese lantern. The translucent material allows it to remain bright on the inside during the day, too.