This month’s case study platforms a beautifully crafted home in the heart of South Carolina, with the help of Kebony technology, and inspired by an ancient oak 

Victory Bay House, a private residence located on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, is a luxury custom home, delivered from concept to final product by a husband-and-wife team of architects.  

The clients, a retired couple who wanted a place for their adult children and grandchildren to gather, wanted a home that never felt too small, while at the same time delivering a healthy, nature-inspired design that captured the elements and splendor afforded by the unique and beautiful island setting.  

According to this brief, the expansive project was brought to life by Chelsea and Matt Anderson, owners of Habitable Form and Maghwa Luxury Homes, respectively. Chelsea is an award-winning architect who is passionate about designing spaces where owners can escape from their worries to a soothing space where they can relax and connect with light and nature. Chelsea teaches Visualization and Communications for the Graduate School of Architecture at the Clemson Architecture Design Center in Charleston, South Carolina. With an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts and after working many years as a fashion designer, she brings a diverse set of design-thinking to every project from unique material choices to creative spatial solutions. 

Chelsea, together with Matt, customized work for Victory Bay House to capture the pleasant, south-westerly breezes running off the Atlantic Ocean and into the home. The central living space on the first-floor features large bi-folding doors to become one large, covered porch. The second-floor bedroom suite was isolated completely with private exterior access so it could be closed off when not in use, giving autonomy to those who use it. 

When it came to the exterior, clean, straight, horizontal lines and wooden screens were fitted in continuous fashion, including on the garage doors, which are camouflaged with the siding. An exterior staircase located on the front corner of the home is framed with wooden slats as well, bending the light that pours into the home at different times of the day.  

One of the more unique features to the property was the ancient live oak. This provided limited space on the property, which subsequently required a design that was vertical in its approach, and kept a narrow form to allow for natural lighting and ventilation of the property.   

Chelsea said she had initially proposed a combination of wood species on the exterior, but the Kiawah Island Architectural Review Board urged her to keep a minimal palette and encapsulate the entire façade house of the house using sustainably sourced Kebony Clear wood cladding.  

Developed in Norway, Kebony provides an alternative to tropical hardwood building materials, which helps to ease the global dependence on traditional construction materials, and reducing the environmental damage caused by tropical deforestation. Sourced from fast growing FSC-certified sustainable softwoods such as pine, dually modified Kebony wood offered Chelsea, Matt and the homeowners a product with the same durability and dimensional stability of a protected wood species, without compromising on the symbiotic relationship with Kiawah Island’s forested habitat.  

In addition to its sustainable credentials, the Kebony Clear cladding will also gradually acquire a characteristic silver-gray patina, weathering in a style that, over time, will establish Victory Bay House as permanent, yet intrinsically natural, feature of the Oakland. 

The patented Kebony technology permanently transforms sustainably sourced softwood species such as pine into dually modified wood – with features that are comparable, and in some cases superior, to those of endangered tropical hardwoods. The bio-based dual modification process permanently transforms the wood cell walls by forming locked-in furan polymers; the dimensional stability, durability, and hardness of the wood are all increased, guaranteeing both a long life and a high level of safety.  

While hardwoods can take 80-200 years to grow, fast-growing softwoods used for Kebony products grow in as little as 25-30 years, and during the growth of these trees and crops used as raw materials, carbon is captured from the atmosphere, further contributing to CO2 sequestration. After applying the Kebony technology, the resulting products provide the most sustainable and long-lasting alternative to endangered tropical hardwoods, eliminating the need for deforestation of the planet’s key carbon sinks, and mitigating the effects of climate change by facilitating a significant reduction in global CO2 emissions within the international building and construction industry. 

“I chose Kebony because it is a modified wood and would have minimal movement for the tight joinery patterns we were after in the exterior of Victory Bay House,” said Cheslea, “After over two years in the harsh conditions of the coastal south, the joinery has stayed in place.’’  

The project was subsequently named the Winner of the 2022 AIA South Carolina Robert Mills Residential Award.