Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Completion year: 2010
Location: Racine, Wisconsin, USA
The OS House by Johnsen Schmaling Architects is located in an old downtown neighborhood in Racine, Wisconsin, this house for a young family demonstrates how a small, sustainable residence built with a moderate budget can become a confident, new urban constituent, a harbinger of change in this rustbelt city suffering from decades of economic decline.
One of the first LEED Platinum homes in the Upper Midwest, the house occupies a narrow infill lot along the edge of Lake Michigan, completing a row of residences built over the last century. Based on massing studies testing the building’s performance in relation to site constraints, solar exposure, and vegetation, the building is a simple rectangular volume with a series of outdoor rooms – an entry court, elevated patios, and a main level terrace, all confined within the boundaries of the rectangular volume itself.
The main level’s transparency allows for a visual link between street and lake, while the upper rainscreen system creates a deep ventilated envelope with superior performance. Along the edges of the outdoor rooms, the façade transforms into a delicate scrim of aluminum rods, defining their spatial boundaries without obstructing views. Floor-to-ceiling apertures penetrate the rainscreen, their colors an unapologetic nod to the cheerful polychrome of the neighborhood’s Victorian homes.