Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
The Matchbox House in Ann Arbor, Michigan by Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism
November 29th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism
The wooded site location became the beginning point for the concept of this project. The house was meant to read as if it were dropped into the woods and therefore different than the natural landscape but not dominant over it. The design was kept very minimal and simple: in elevation it is the classic 4 sided house with a 45 degree roof. To further illustrate this idea, the house was raised on a concrete plinth that is inset from the footprint of the house, thereby emphasizing the bottom two corners which help articulate the houses edges and the fact that it is this object that is placed within these woods.
In plan, the house took on the qualities of a “matchbox” (hence the name) in which there is an outer wrapper (in this case, standing seam metal) and an inner box. Because the house has 4 “quadrants” in elevation, the inner box was subdivided into 4 smaller boxes (in cedar siding, horizontal and vertical, as well as composite board), which appear to push and pull independently of each other. As a result, some of these quadrants push out of the outer wrapper on one end and therefore create “outdoor” space on the other end that is still within the confines of the exterior wrapper.
While sustainability and sensitivity to the environment was important from the start of the design (the house is on track to receive LEED Platinum certification), being “green” was viewed as inherently another part of the design process and construction, as is structure and function, and would manifest itself as needed.
Many of the green features result in a more efficient house and therefore do not appear visually, but increase the comfort in the home and decrease energy bills. Efficiency was also an important factor in terms of construction – the studs, joists, and rafters are 24” on center, as opposed to the traditional 16” on center, therefore further reducing materials.
Other more apparent features include FSC certified wood for the upstairs floors, all stair work, the kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, and interior doors. The wood used for the base, window, and door trim all come from a demolished barn in Michigan. Low and no VOC paint was used throughout.
As an important part of the design was for the house to appear in the woods and for the trees to come as close to the house as possible, no conventional turf will be planted and only the necessary area needed for construction, driveway, and septic fields was disturbed during construction, and will be replanted with only native planting, therefore eliminating the need for an irrigation system.