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Bach Residence
Bach Residence
Bach Residence
Bach Residence
Bach Residence
Bach ResidenceWatercolor (2009)
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This is my home. The design evolved from a minimalist leaning for uncluttered shapes, functional transparency, and an interest in using common building materials in unusual yet pleasing ways. The design also expresses my strong sustainability values. The house sits on a large one-half block lot in the middle of residential Houghton, on an old mine waste dump naturally reclaimed by 100 years of neglect. Building here aligned well with my views on land reuse and reduced reliance on the automobile, and the property’s naturalness offered a private and contemplative setting not normally found in the middle of town.

The house is a delight to live in. The second floor living space is at tree-top height and the decks seem to float high over open ground. Most visitors liken the experience to being in a tree house or a bird’s nest. The house is located on the north side of the lot with orientation to the south. Large south facing windows drench the interior in sunlight and direct the views toward the woods, stream, and waterfall. Placing the stairwell and closets along the north wall help buffer city noise. The small, square footprint allows for daylighting in all rooms, with the interior hall borrowing this illumination via glass transoms. The seemingly uninterrupted flow of the ceiling plane through the transom glass adds a sense of spaciousness and continuity.

The interior trim is detailed and refined reflecting the craftsmanship that went into its design and execution. The cabinetry was designed for my particular needs and to integrate with the casework. As a contrast to dominating rectilinear forms, the living area bookshelves, wall-hung electronics cabinetry and custom-built table are rounded flowing shapes. The birch plywood ceiling is a refinement of the battened homosote board ceiling I remembered from the basement “rec” room in the 1950’s suburban home where I was raised. The terra cotta colored concrete floor is a visual anchor, adds mass, and is durable, low-maintenance, and easy to clean.

The beauty of this dwelling in more then skin deep. The high performance air-tight envelope, water saving fixtures, and efficient lighting and controlled passive solar gain all contribute to miserly utility bills. Air quality is maintained with a heat recovery air exchanger. The high-efficiency water heater that provides domestic hot water also supplies the hot water for radiant floor heating.

This house has been featured in local green building articles, is regularly toured by students, and has been included in the American Solar Energy Society’s solar home tours numerous times.