The Chameleon House




In the rolling hills of Northern Michigan, this intriguing home overlooks a cherry orchard and a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. Completed in 2006 by Anderson Architecture, this striking structure took less than eight weeks to build thanks to the use of prefabricated materials.  The steel frame of this house is wrapped in corrugated, translucent acrylic slats, allowing it to take on and reflect the changing colors of the landscape, like a chameleon blending into its habitat. With breathtaking sunsets on the Peninsula  at dusk, the house is aglow with the reflection of the setting sun. Because it sits on a steep hill, the entrance of the home leads to the third floor, letting residents descend to the bedrooms or walk up to the living area. From within, windows frame the not to be missed views, and when passing by one can’t help but to be taken by its presence in the landscape.

Image and excerpt source:

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Hemeroscopium House

Prefab. Typically we think of prefab architecture as a construction technique used when producing multiple installations of exactly the same design. In the case of the Hemeroscopium house designed by Antón García-Abril of Ensamble Studio, prefab is redefined. The custom structure is constructed of prefabricated components, creating a unique and dramatic design. One large granite block holds this dynamic structure in place. Carefully engineered, in perfect balance, and absolutely breathtaking.

“It took us a year to engineer but only seven days to build the structure, thanks to a total prefabrication of the different elements and a perfectly coordinated rhythm of assembly. All of our effort oriented to develop the technique that would allow creating a very specific space. And thus, a new astonishing language is invented, where form disappears giving way to the naked space. Hemeroscopium house materializes the peak of its equilibrium with what in Ensamble Studio we ironically call the “G point”, a twenty ton granite stone, expression of the force of gravity and a physical counterweight to the whole structure.”

Images and excerpts sourced at the architects website:



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Wiki House

Have you heard of Wiki House? It’s absolutely fabulous.
From designing a house to an ancillary building this concept could revolutionize the D-I-Y craze. WikiHouse is an Open Community Construction Set. It’s a set of parts. Think of Lego’s or an erector set. You customize the solution, and create a design that meets your personal programmatic needs. Building plans are downloaded free. This group of collaborative designers who have developed the system, have made great design accessible and affordable to all. It empowers each one of us to build with our own hands, with or without knowledge of traditional construction methods. It certainly is applicable on my property. Imagine the possibilities in countries where homes and community buildings are not affordable. Flat pack homes arrive and community members can join together, as in the days of a barn raising, to personally impact and improve their environment without specialized skills or power tools. Very cool.  Watch a video of the prototype being built here.

So, are you ready to get started?
Download houses and components which are created and shared by an open community of designers from around the world. Individual parts can be combined or adapted using the free program Google Sketchup.

Click ‘Make this House’ from within Google Sketchup and WikiHouse generates a complete set of milling drawings from your model, which can be used by a CNC cutter to fabricate the house parts.


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Dwelle Sustainable Micro-Buildings

One could say I’m an avid micro-house enthusiast. I am always on the lookout for new interpretations of the simple idea of efficient living. Thinking about every surface and space as an opportunity for housing a function or purpose. I enjoy collected images as a sort of idea bank, which I draw on for inspiration.
I recently came across the work of the Manchester based Architecture group Dwelle. They were awarded Best Small House of the Year at the British Home Awards, among other mentions in the press for their prefab, sustainable micro-buildings. An offshoot of dwelle's larger prefab dwellings line eco home:works, they offer an option for modular, eco focused building. 

These minimalist prefabs are an interesting option for the homeowner looking for an efficient and cost effective dwelling. Micro-buildings could be a perfect full time residence, office or vacation home. The units take advantage of the verticality of the design by creating a sleeping loft above the kitchen and bathroom. This gesture allows for a double height space in the living area, creating the illusion of a much larger room. Large windows for access to views and for maximizing daylight offer a built solution for sun control, with wood slat louvers. The choices presented for exterior cladding alone are reason to give these dwellings a closer look. Unconventional options such as rubber, and concrete are openminded and forward thinking options.

The firms website provides information about their sustainability focus and execution on these petit dwellings. They currently offer four unit sizes appropriately titled big, little, office and beach, ranging in size from 24 square metres to a mere 7.5 square metres. 

To learn more about the dwelle sustainable micro building, visit their website. All images courtesy of


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Counter Space: Design And The Modern Kitchen

"Meal machine, experimental laboratory, status symbol, domestic prison, or the creative and spiritual heart of the home"?

This weekend, an exciting exhibition opened at MOMA in NYC, titled Counter Space:  Design And The Modern Kitchen. The exhibit runs from September 15, 2010 to March 14, 2011. Organized in conjunction with their newest publication Modern Women:  Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art,  the exhibit presents a fully assembled Frankfurt Kitchen from the Hohenblick Housing Estate, Ginnheim, Frankfurt, Germany from 1926-1927.

Designed by architect Margarete Schutte-Lihotzky (1897-2000), "The Frankfurt Kitchen was designed like a laboratory or factory and based on contemporary theories about efficiency, hygiene, and workflow". "Over the course of the past century no other room has been the focus of such intensive aesthetic and technological innovation, or as loaded with cultural significance. Kitchen design has been both a central concern of modernism and fundamental to our concept of modern life. Drawn entirely from MoMA’s collection, this exhibition explores the twentieth-century transformation of the kitchen as a barometer of changing technologies, aesthetics, and ideologies".

"The Frankfurt Kitchen in MoMA’s collection, on view in the exhibition,  was salvaged in 1993 from the second floor of the corner house in this photograph (124 Kurhessenstrasse). Flat roofs and standardized forms were characteristic of the estates built for the New Frankfurt. In 1930 Ernst May stated: “The exterior form of the Frankfurt housing estates developed out of the given facts of the interiors and rejects the pretentious gestures and decorative embellishments of old or new origin."

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. Frankfurt Kitchen from the Höhenblick Housing Estate, Frankfurt, Germany (reconstruction). 1926–27.  The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Joan R. Brewster in memory of her Husband George W.W. Brewster, by exchange and the Architecture & Design Purchase Fund.

Plan of the Frankfurt Kitchen indicating its labor saving features 1927

Grete Schütte-Lihotzky (seated) with colleagues from the Frankfurt Municipal Building Department c. 1928 "Schütte-Lihotzky was the only woman in the team of architects assembled by Ernst May, director of Frankfurt’s Municipal Building Department. The white lab coats worn by the architects emphasize the team’s rational, scientific approach" .


It is a rare and wonderful opportunity to experience modular kitchen design of this era, up close and personal.  This kitchen is an excellent example of early prefab design. What I appreciate most about the Frankfurt Kitchen is the timelessness, which is due to purposeful planning, based on function rather than trend. Efficiency and organization is evident in the design of the space.  Every element and detail, such as these built in canisters for food storage, were beautiful custom solutions to everyday design problems. I believe this kitchen would function beautifully in a modern day home. I'd love to move in! Enjoy the show!


Get more information about the Counter Space:  Design And The Modern Kitchen exhibit.

Exhibition Detail
Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019
September 15, 2010 to March 14, 2011
All quotations and photography courtesy of the exhibition website at :

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