The Matchbox House by Bureau for Architecture

The Matchbox House by Bureau for Architecture

Architects: Bureau for Architecture
Design team: Naseem Alizadeh
Photography: Steve Maylone
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

The Matchbox House is a four bedroom house in a rural area near Ann Arbor. The house only has 1740 sf of conditioned space and a one car garage. The concept for the house in elevation came from the iconic shape of a four-sided house, much like a child would draw. In this case, the 5th side (the bottom) is expressed since the house is raised on an inset concrete plinth. The idea was for the house to read as a small object dropped into the woods.

Aside from the construction footprint of the house, septic field and driveway, the remainder of the site was left untouched as a natural wooded setting. No grass (and therefore no irrigation) has been used, the area of the septic tank now has a native meadow mix. The entire site, exlusive of the footprint of the house, is permeable (including the driveway).

In plan the house reads as a matchbox, with an exterior sleeve and interior container (in this case, split into 4 quadrants). They appear to slip past each other and the outer sleeve, thereby creating some exterior space which is still protected by the outer sleeve.

The house has received LEED Platinum Certification and has a HERS score of 46. In addition to an undisturbed site, no basement and a one car garage, the house is much smaller than the current average American home but still feels quite large and spacious inside, since all interior space is used and maximized (there is no attic, so upper floor rooms follow the line of the 45 degree angle roof).

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