The Matchbox House / Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism

Steve Maylone © Maylone Photography

Architects: Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism
Location: Ann Arbor,, USA
Design Team: Naseem Alizadeh
Landscape Architect: Tad Krear
Year: 2012
Structural Engineer: Cory Johnston
Mechanical Engineer: Matt Snider
Photographs: Steve Maylone © Maylone Photography

The concept for the house is a matchbox in which the four inner quadrants (cedar siding) slip past one another within the outer sleeve (standing seam metal wrapper).  By doing so, each end of the inner quadrants either juts out past the outer sleeve, or is pushed into it, thereby creating outdoor space that is still within the confines of the sleeve. The house is meant to read as an urban cottage nestled in the woods and therefore in its approaching (short) elevation it has the geometry of an iconic 4 sided house. To articulate this even more, it is raised on an inset concrete plinth, which expresses the bottom two edges (and therefore fifth side) that would normally touch the ground.

Steve Maylone © Maylone Photography

The house has four bedrooms, 1,740 sf of conditioned space and a one car garage. It is on track to receive LEED Platinum Certification. It has a HERS rating of 49 and many “green” features, including FSC wood, reclaimed trim from demolished barns, no conventional turf (no irrigation) and low flow plumbing fixtures. The house is meant to be small and compact: every area in this house is used (there is neither an attic nor a basement). Because of this, the house has rooms which vary in volume and create dynamic spaces. The upstairs rooms have dramatic ceilings that begin at 3’-0” and end at 16’-0”. A portion of the main living area has a double volume space which goes to the roof.

Steve Maylone © Maylone Photography
Cite: "The Matchbox House / Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism" 25 Oct 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • rl

    i think you’ll find this house is in michigan not south australia….?

  • Nyero Christopher

    I love all your design and i would love to learn from you so as to improve my Architectural Design too!!!!

  • Stan Majcherkiewicz

    Love the exterior. Inside – mhmmm… not that great, just does not match the concept… (my 2 cents)… :)

  • reINVNT

    I really love how sincere the project. I went to the company website and was shocked to learn the architect was a product of Harvard GSD. It’s great to see some producing real architecture not generated from a parametric modeling program.

  • maheyes

    Does it burn?

  • Sharon

    Is there a bedroom and a bathroom with a shower downstairs?