This Timber Prefab by Manta North Is What Dreams Are Made Of

The Scandinavian-inspired prefab—a minimalist design that starts at $179K—is one family’s happy place by the sea.

Juris Grišins and Laura Komisare needed a break. Life in the big city of Riga, Latvia’s capital, was exhilarating, but the couple wanted somewhere they and their two children could spread out and connect with nature. "I come from a small town, and the first few summers I spent in the city were painful," remembers Laura.

The Manta North home is built from cross-laminated timber (CLT). The cladding is thermally modified wood, which, when left untreated, ages gracefully into a warm grey, helping it blend into its rustic seaside surrounds.

Seeking some solitude and a view of the Baltic Sea, Laura and Juris, who works in finance, found an idyllic lot close to the small village of Roja, steps from the Gulf of Riga. But then the question became, what to build on the lot?

They approached an architect friend who had helped them remodel their apartment in Riga, and she drew up a plan for a summer home. "We told her what we wanted and the proposed home was twice as large as our apartment in the city!" says Laura. "Plus, digging the foundations for such a structure was going to be so expensive and so permanent."

No one knows what’s around the corner in life, says Laura, and they didn’t want to be tied down. So, they turned to prefab.

Laura and Juris chose Manta North’s Slope model, which features a gable roof. Their Ray model comes with a flat roof, but either can be built to incorporate solar panels.

Another friend, Raimonds Gusarevs, had recently founded a prefab home building company specializing in designs no larger than 600 square feet. Based in Latvia, Manta North is an effort to bridge the gap between the homeowner and the factory, to make the home building process simpler and more efficient, says Gusarevs. "We have fixed prices, four floor plans, and two types of roofs to select from," he explains.

Sliding glass doors open up the compact home, creating an indoor/outdoor living scheme. A deck further expands the living space.

Manta’s two models—the Slope with the gabled roof and the Ray with a flat roof—can be configured and purchased entirely online, delivered direct to the site, and installed in less than two hours. "Manta means ‘good thing’ in Latvia, and our homes are good things from the North," says Gusarevs.

Gusarev also points out that every structure leaving their factory is carbon negative, removing three tons of carbon from the atmosphere thanks to the materials used and engineering processes employed.

"We don’t have all the extra expenses of a big house, we can clean it ourselves, and it is totally sufficient for what we need and how we use it." 

–Laura Komisare, resident

Laura furnished the home with pieces from Hay, String, and Muuto, and had this sofa made by Lett, a local company based in Roja. The artwork is by a Zane Tuča, a Latvian artist.

Each is highly energy-efficient, featuring cross-laminated timber construction and cladding in thermally modified wood—timber that’s been heated at high temperatures for durability and strength. All materials used are sustainable and environmentally friendly, resulting in an eco-conscious design that promotes simpler living.

For Laura and Juris, it was the perfect solution for their summer retreat. "We don’t have all the extra expenses of a big house, we can clean it ourselves, and it is totally sufficient for what we need and how we use it," says Laura. "It also gives us a lot of flexibility for the future. We can just bring it with us if we move."

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Storage is the biggest challenge of living in close quarters, and Laura maximized the space with customizable built-in cupboards from String Furniture. The family also keeps very little here, bringing with them only what they need.

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom home arrived fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, and all lighting, heating, and water fittings and fixtures in place. All the couple needed to add was furniture.

While it can get a bit tight at times, "especially when it’s raining!" says Laura, the home’s minimalist aesthetic and 516-square-foot floor plan promotes being closer to nature. "We spend a lot of time outside, walking in the woods, going to the beach," she says.

Her daughter, who’s six, and her son, three, enjoy running around outside. An adjacent open shed, also made by Manta North, provides shelter to enjoy dinner al fresco during the warmer summer months. It’s also an excellent spot for building snowmen in the winter.

The home has a single bathroom with a tiled shower and small sink. There are some customization options when ordering a Manta North home, including the choice of black or gray light fixtures.

Originally intended as a summer house, the family has found they use it almost every weekend. During the pandemic, the space proved perfect for isolating before a family gathering over Christmas. "We stayed here for ten days, and it was wonderful," recalls Juris. "It felt like another reality."

With no TV and few modern distractions, they spend their time reading, walking, or just sitting and listening to the sound of the sea. "It’s a great place for doing nothing," says Laura.

A String Furniture dresser, simple bed, and Hay indoor/outdoor chair complete Laura and Juris’s bedroom, where the focal point is the picture window and breathtaking view of the Bay of Riga.

Manta North was founded in 2018 and Laura and Juris’s home was the third to roll off the factory floor. Subsequently, the company has produced close to 30 more prefabricated homes, delivering them to Iceland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Its two models start at $179,000 for 516 square feet, preinstalled with smart lighting, radiant floor heating, and mini-split air conditioning units that can be controlled with a voice assistant and a smartphone app. In the future, Manta plans to create units that can connect, allowing for home configurations spanning up to 1,500 square feet.

The company expects to have U.S. manufacturing facilities in place next year, with homes being delivered in both New York and California in early 2022.

Floor Plan for House by the Sea

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