BrightBuilt Barn Story

The first BrightBuilt Barn

In the fall of 2006, Kaplan Thompson Architects was contacted by Keith Collins, who was interested in building a workshop and studio for himself and his wife on his property in Rockport, Maine.  Keith didn’t want just any building though; he wanted to use this seemingly small project as an opportunity to tackle some very large goals.  With the climate crisis looming all around us and ever conscious of the extreme heating needs of buildings in Maine, Keith decided to use his project as an experiment to create something larger than just another building.

The resulting building, the BrightBuilt Barn, is an attempt to push the envelope of sustainable design. It is the practical outcome of an in-depth collaboration between Kaplan Thompson Architects, Bensonwood Woodworking Company, a Who’s-Who team of Maine’s green engineers, and a visionary client to create a super green, offsite fabricated net-zero building that can be adapted and replicated over time. Designers, building fabricators, high performance building experts and solar energy professionals from all over the northeast have participated in the project.

The original building has a small but adaptable initial purpose – it serves as a working studio for the client, but future versions can be configured as a one or two-bedroom unit. With large intentions, its mission is to demonstrate an alternative method of building that allows a level of flexibility and sustainability beyond the reach of typical residential construction. The unit fabricated and erected in the summer of 2008 is a prototype; additional designs are now available for purchase at a square foot cost equivalent to the average small American home.