Text description provided by the architects. Frustrated by the floundering American housing market, Revelations Architects developed the E.D.G.E.(Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment). This experimental minimalist structure aims to meet basic human needs while still providing a qualitatively rich life. William Yudchitz, the architect, sees the E.D.G.E. as a launching point and educational tool to transform today’s values and the way we create our homes.
In the last few decades the average size of a house in the United States has increased dramatically. Stylistically, nostalgic versions of faux-history and borrowed typologies from other regions are the norm. In an effort to reverse this trend Revelations Architects focused on what they felt were the basic functions of life: eating, bathing, sleeping and communal fellowshipping.
The resulting structure explores regional materials and a new formal typology derived from climate, ecological, cultural, economic, and constructional influences. The construction logic started with the idea of two prefabricated boxes at each end of the building that held the mechanical systems for the house. These boxes were separated then woven together by walls of glass and covered by a simple flat roof structure setting up an organizational logic for optimal construction economy.
To test their concept, Revelations Architects/Building Corporation sought reactions from a number of people, and decided to exhibit the E.D.G.E. in June 2009, at the 20th annual Midwest Renewable Energy Association Fair in Custer, Wisconsin. The structure needed to be partially prefabricated to provide quality, an affordable price, and speed in assembly and dismantling. This worked well with their design, making modules of mechanical areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. To accomplish this goal they needed to build the structure in their office parking lot, pre-building the structure & insulated doors. Everything that had been fabricated, was disassembled, moved, and reassembled at the fair.
The size of the dwelling was critically examined, but the spaciousness of the structure belies its minimal 340 sqf footprint. Sectional issues and details were studied in three dimensions to ensure maximum utilization of the minimal space, while maintaining a sense of openness. The furniture is an integral part of the architecture constructed of the same materials as the interior: specifically designed to optimize the space, offering maximum flexibility, meeting the basic functions. The central space can easily be reconfigured to facilitate eating, sleeping, or communal living by reconfiguring the transforming furniture. The result is a hybrid of traditional craft and digital fabrication. Much of the wood interior was CNC cut, as was the furniture. The pre-cut pieces enabled rapid construction at a fraction the cost of traditional methods.
Approximately 7,000 fairgoers toured this experimental dwelling. Reactions ranged from “It’s about time that somebody did this, isn’t it great”, to “I could never live in it”. Most people did go away asking the question, “Can I really live in the E.D.G.E.” After the fair the E.D.G.E was disassembled, moved, and reconstructed on a sloping site in northern Wisconsin overlooking Lake Superior. The extensive glazing is oriented to take advantage of the views of Chequamegon Bay to the South and the forest to the North. The orientation also allows for optimal passive solar orientation, while the kinetic insulating doors restrict heat loss.
The E.D.G.E. was glad to get a real foundation after living its early life on temporary concrete blocks. The deep radiant floor heating consists of 4 inches of extruded foam insulation and pec’s pipe covered with 12” of sand creating a heat sink, before pouring a 4” concrete slab. A ground source geothermal heat pump was installed for the HVAC energy source.