Somerset Township House

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Schematic Design is well under way for a home we are designing in Somerset Township, a community in south central Michigan in Hillsdale County. The clients own a ten acre parcel that was partitioned off from a larger farm property dating back to the late 1800s. After many years of living in the metro Detroit area, they are seeking a little peace and quiet and a deep connection to nature.

In their initial planning and dreaming, the clients decided they wanted to build a home using Quonset Hut style steel buildings. These buildings are durable and relatively quick to assemble. Developed during WWII as a prefabricated building typology for use by the Navy, they have continued to be used for industrial and agricultural buildings ever since. We at Maison Orion have not previously worked with this building type before, but we are always up for new challenges. Thankfully we have our friend Earl Parson and his company Clever Moderns to consult and share knowledge with us.

The property is about 50% rolling plains and 50% dense stand of trees. A small stream runs through the woods. The clients have spent about a year visiting the property before we were hired and have some detailed knowledge of the wind and sun patterns across the site that is really helpful. They asked the house be set back from the main road, and we looked at two sites nestled up against the trees. The scheme shown below is the in the middle of the property, but still set back about 300' from the road. Future wildflower gardens will be planted in the front portion of the site, providing much needed habitat for birds and insects as well as forming a privacy screen.

With plans to grow old in this house, the clients requested that all living spaces be on a single level connected with wide hallways to accommodate the eventual walker or wheelchair. The design is split into two buildings, with a garage, studio and workshop in the front building, and the house proper set behind and slipping a little down to the southwest. A cover, glazed link connects the two. The plan is book-ended with the Master Suite on the east end, the Living Room, Kitchen and Entry on the west end. This spaces take advantage of the high space afforded by the Quonset Hut roof system. Guest Bedrooms fill the middle along the south wall, and a line of Service Rooms (Guest Bath, Laundry, Mechanical, etc.)  run along the north wall. Ample storage space fills an attic over these central rooms.

This home has ambitious goals for solar power generation, geothermal heating and cooling, a tight, air sealed envelope and general longevity over many generations. We are looking at the Department of Energy's Net Zero Energy Ready criteria for this house to meet those goals.

Stay tuned for future Journal updates on this exciting project.