jennifer bonner faux-finishes the interior of pioneering CLT house in atlanta, georgia

jennifer bonner faux-finishes the interior of pioneering CLT house in atlanta, georgia

in 2014 jennifer bonner presented ‘domestic hats’, an exhibition that explored ordinary roof typologies in the united states. the display, which comprised 16 unique massing models, called for designers to consider misbehavior in architecture, particularly at the roofline. bonner has continued her interest in the subject with her latest project ‘haus gables’ — a completed residence in the old fourth ward neighborhood of atlanta, georgia. the house is one of only a handful of residences in the country made of cross laminated timber (CLT), an exceptionally strong wood material produced by gluing together layers of lumber.

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
all images by NAARO, unless otherwise stated



through her design, jennifer bonner — who leads art and architecture studio MALL — sought to challenge notions of the domestic interior through materiality, color, and form. a cluster of six gable roofs have been combined to form a single roof, which, in turn, defines and organizes the floor plan. ‘the roof plan establishes rooms, catwalks, and double height spaces in the interior by aligning these spaces to ridges and valleys in the roof above,’ explains bonner, who is also associate professor of architecture and director of the master in architecture II program at harvard GSD.

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
the house is one of only two residences in the US made of cross-­laminated timber



the house sits on a plot that measures just 24 feet wide (7.3 meters) and has a width of just 18 feet (5.5 meters) — the same size as a single-­wide mobile home. from a curb­side view, an asymmetrical and unfamiliar form replaces the traditional gable elevation house. unusual profiles emerge on all four elevations as the six gable roofs are cut at the perimeter’s massing. meanwhile, the roof pitches are much steeper than those found in industry standards. all of the building’s walls, floors, and roof are made of solid CLT panels, which were custom­-cut and hoisted into place, before being assembled in just two weeks.

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
the design references the american south’s tradition of ‘faux­ finishing’



for the project’s interior, bonner references the american south’s tradition of ‘faux­-finishing’ through the use of contrasting materials and color blocking. for example, black terrazzo is not poured in­­ place and polished, but applied as a thin tile, while oriented strand board (OSB) is replaced by ceramic tiles in its image. marble finishes in the bedroom and adjacent bathroom are made of unlikely materials, including vinyl and cartoonish drawings, rather than italian marble. ‘when building a house entirely out of CLT, I wanted to offset the image of a wooden interior with faux finishes,’ bonner explains. ‘these fake materials are colorful, bold and deceiving.’

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
the distinct roofline defines and organizes the floor plan



jennifer bonner of MALL was named one of 2019’s recipients of the architectural league prize for young architects + designers. each year, the architectural league announces six firms as winners of the award, which spotlights young, innovative north american architects and designers. in 2019, a jury of architects and design professionals selected the winners in a portfolio competition around the theme ‘just,’ or architecture’s unique ability to address social concerns and engage a wide range of mediums, geographies, and inhabitants.

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
all of the building’s exterior and interior walls, floors, and roof are made of solid CLT panels

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
square apertures bring natural light into the home

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
outdoor areas have been integrated as part of the design

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
bedrooms are found on the dwelling’s upper two levels

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
the home’s all-white garage

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
a cluster of six gable roofs have been combined to form a single roof

jennifer bonner mall haus gables
image by tim hursley



project info:


location: atlanta, georgia – old fourth ward neighborhood
size: 2,200 sqf (204 sqm)
architecture and interior design​: jennifer bonner, director of MALL
structural engineers​: AKT II (hanif kara), bensonwood, PEC structural engineering, and fire tower
general contractor​: principle builders group
CLT manufacturer​: KLH USA
CLT installation specialist​: terry ducatt
wood products specialist​: 7 seas group USA
civil engineer​: crescent view engineering
mechanical systems​: emily mcglohn
associate architect​: olinger architects
façade research​: alex timmer
landscape design​: carley rickles
photography​: NAARO, timothy hursley
interior products​: coverings etc. (ecoterr tile); stone source (ornamenta artwork tile); RPS distributors (vives ceramica strandR tile); rabern nash (johnsonite and forbo tile)
wall assembly​: vaproshield, vapromat, kooltherm K20 insulation (kingspan insulation)
sub-contractors​: cool roofing company, natural plastering, inc., raypaul coating, inc.
furniture​: switch modern (kartell, glas italia, stark); DOM interiors (casamania); design within reach (herman miller); A+R (HAY); Yliving (MUUTO); hem design studio; ligne roset; bend; blu dot; floyd; artek; WELCOMECOMPANIONS

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