Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bill Massie's American House 08

Bill Massie, head of Architecture at Cranbrook, has designed and built a beautifully lyrical, modern, pre-fab home called the American House 08.

Above is a photo from the Cranbrook website, of the house during assembly.

In its finished state, walls undulate and light glows from porous segments. Texture, material and form interplay. The roof dips down becoming a seat (the truest extension of A Pattern Language's suggestion that part of a roof be reachable from human height).

The American House 08 was installed on the lawn of the Cranbrook Art Museum, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, this summer during an exhibition at the museum, on Massie's work.

When I was a student at Cranbrook, Bill Massie gave a lecture on his work and discussed the intricacy of the development of his designs. His process is unique in that he owns a warehouse in Pontiac, Michigan (a formerly thriving auto manufacturing town that now has seen better days, like most of Michigan) in which he is able to assemble his designs in pieces and walk through them, spending significant time in them as he goes along. This allows the flexibility of experiencing the space in 1:1 scale, and making changes, as you create it; a smart and necessary idea to me.

An article with great photos of the finished American house 08 is featured in the current issue of Dwell magazine.

The Cranbrook Architecture Department is a fifteen person crew of some great, creative architecture heads; there's a lot of interesting experimentation and materials research going on there. Bill Massie, as the department's Artist-In-Residence (department head), certainly leads this effort well.