American House 08

Plan drawing of the American House 08.
Projection surface, illuminated interior and volumetric anomalies.
Front view of roof contour.
Through glass view of shower volume.
View of interior shower and roof volume surfaces.
Rear elevation and 3D rendered study of roof surface.
Front elevation and 3D rendered study of roof surface.
Night view of projected video on shower volume.
Shower volume and reflected light well.
Interior of shower and skylight space.
Side elevation.
Interior view of living space and "volumetric anomalies."

Primary Author

  • William Massie

Contributing Author

  • Brian Oltrogge (Digital Fabrication / Design)


  • Cranbrook Academy of Art, Architect-in-Residence Show


  • Henrik Knudsen
  • Brian Oltrogge


This 2,000 SF house is primarily a well organized transparent box for living with two “volumetric anomalies.” The buildings structure is primarily laser cut tube steel with structural insulated panel in-fill. Two distinct objects act simultaneously as "occupants" and "spacial defining elements." In short, "volumetric anomalies." These complex volumetric anomalies were constructed by machining sections of structural insulated panels via a complex computer model and computer controlled milling machine. The stress-skin sections were then reinforced with engineered lumber and laser cut steel. They were then finished with a traditional extraordinarily smooth plaster coating of 3/4 of an inch. The two volumetric anomalies act as ambient lighting devices by virtue of embedded led lighting in the floor causing them to become the “subject” of interior space. Improvisationally the subject can transform into object through the use of built-in video projection allowing the color and image of the video to wrap and inform the interior environment. The conceptual and performance criteria not only exists at a full “building and spacial scale”, but also translates to the smallest detail level. For example: In use the laser cut fronts of the kitchen cabinets are elliptical but when viewing from the dining area they are associated as perfect circles. An acknowledgment of preparation and consumption.


The project was conceived of having two goals. It was constructed for an exhibition that lasted approximately a year out side of the contemporary art museum at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA, making up the majority of an exhibition of Architect in Residence and Head of Architecture, William E. Massie. The second goal beyond being an exhibition work was to build a critical, sustainable prefabricated house.


American House 08 is a completely functional prefabricated home that was built for an exhibition and as a provocative act of questioning "living" within a digital age. This building has not had a permanent site and is in the process of being moved and re-assembled at this time.

Plan drawing of the American House 08.