“American House 08″ by William E. Massie

Sunday, February 22, 2009

American House 08, is the first in a series of ten prefabricated houses designed and constructed by William E. Massie — the award-winning Architect-in-Residence and Head of the Architecture Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

American House 08 embodies Massie’s drastically divergent practice from traditional architecture through his use of computer-based fabrication technology for efficient, precise, and customized fabrication. Constructed entirely within the architect’s 12,000 square-foot studio just minutes away from the historic Saarinen-designed Cranbrook campus, American House 08 was designed, in part, at full scale. By composing in real-time, Massie is able to negotiate between material and concept, relying on human reaction to the actual space and details. Utilizing computer-based fabrication technology for production, the house consists of a prefabricated steel frame, in-filled with manufactured structural panels all filtered through a process of digital fabrication.

The design of American House 08 is defined by two glass elevations, uniting the interior experience with the exterior landscape. The regularity of the box-like form is disrupted by a pair of volumetric anomalies and elliptical light tubes, stretching down to the floor, implying a shift in program.

Additionally, these complex surfaces capture light from multiple video projectors, creating a flexible ambient condition for the occupants, while dematerializing the object within the landscape. Without a specific client, Massie’s architecture becomes propositional, predicating its functionality solely on the human body and experience. Proposing material motivations for behavior, this series of houses by Massie dares to be truly provocative.

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