Chameleon House / Anderson Anderson Architecture

© Anthony Vizzari

Architects: Anderson Anderson Architecture
Location: Lake Michigan, MI,
Collaborators: Dan Brondyk, Terry Nettles Engineer, Comstock Construction
Project Area: 1,600 sq ft
Project Year: 2006
Photographs: Anthony Vizzari

This house is a tower rising above the rolling topography of its cherry orchard site, peering outwards toward spectacular westward views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding agricultural landscape. The site is minimally disturbed, other than the mounding of two earthen enclosures adjacent to the tower, created from the excavated earth of the foundation and offering a ground to contrast the tower experience above the treescape. Due to the slope of the site, the family enters at the third level, descending down to the kids’ bedrooms and bath or moving up to the main living spaces which look out over the orchards to Lake Michigan.

exploded axo
© Anthony Vizzari

A house would appear as an unsympathetic intrusion in this pure landscape, and with its singular vertical presence rising above the orchard, the tower is intended to reflect the austere, scaleless non-particularity of the occasional farm buildings dotted elsewhere on the hills. To help mask the scale, the building is wrapped in a skirting wall of recycled translucent polyethelene slats, standing two feet out from the galvanized sheet metal cladding of the wall surface on aluminum frames that serve also as window washing platforms and emergency exit ladders. The translucent polyethylene material set out over the dully reflective wall cladding is chosen for its ability to gather the light and color of its landscape, dissolving the finely shadowed and haloed structure into the seasonal color cycle of snow, ice and black twig tracery; pale pink blossom clouds; pollen green leaf and grass; golden straw and vivid foliage. The double skin creates a micro-climate and thermal differential around the structure creating a rippling mirage updraft that in the summer sends steaming condensation or in the winter drips melting icicles.

© Anthony Vizzari

In order to keep costs and on site labor to a minimum, SIPs panels compose the exterior walls. A moment frame allows for the height of the structure and for loft like spaces within the main living area. With the use of common materials and industrial detailing, a commercial contractor expects to build the home in six to eight weeks.

Cite: "Chameleon House / Anderson Anderson Architecture" 01 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Jul 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=58191>

22 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Pretty interesting… The “techno” look is not only in the look but also in the way the project is made… looks like a Do-It-Yourself kit

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    ” this nice sketch not put into action” said up_today_arch
    maybe because the polycarbonate screens are completly transparents.
    by tne way, what is the use of them ? decoration ?

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Yes, the transparency of the screens seems pointless. It allows all of the structure holding the panels in place to come to the fore. The effect is something like Frankenstein with his loose stitches hanging out…or maybe a robot with loose wires.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    RT @yuhji_takahashi: #architecture : Chameleon House / Anderson Anderson Architecture > 詳しく読んでいないが、気になる建築。http://bit.ly/afCR7n

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    quote of poly carbonate from author above.

    The translucent polyethylene material set out over the dully reflective wall cladding is chosen for its ability to gather the light and color of its landscape, dissolving the finely shadowed and haloed structure into the seasonal color cycle of snow….. The double skin creates a micro-climate and thermal differential around the structure creating a rippling mirage updraft that in the summer sends steaming condensation or in the winter drips melting icicles.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    Nice theory about the exterior taking on the colour of the landscape, and it works well in winter, but it looks truly awful in the spring/summer. This should have been built in Alaska.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    Looks like a commercial air conditioning unit for a convention center, or maybe a processing unit at an oil refinery. It would be cool in a city but I don’t like it on that hill.

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