Home and Studio Under One Roof
A steel skin, exposed framing, and a central atrium distinguish this industrial-strength version of a classic dog-run house.
Synopsis: It’s a boxcar… No, it’s a barn… Wait, it’s Bede Van Dyke’s western Michigan version of a classic dog-run house. Outside, the house is clad in corrugated metal, which gives it that rural railroad look. Inside, two separate houses are joined by a large two-story atrium. The atrium serves to separate areas of different function on either side, but it also becomes a comfortable social center for the house. Included is a fun sidebar about building this house in the throes of a nasty Michigan winter.
After living in and remodeling my previous house (FHB #137, pp. 116-121), I learned several things. First, I needed to separate my office and studio space from my living area. Second, I wanted to build with structural insulated panels (SIPs) again because I liked their energy efficiency and their ease of construction. Finally, I liked the honest feel of exposed structure and systems that I’d used in the studio along with the same down-home rural feel of galvanized-steel siding.
An old design reborn
Armed with these criteria, I started working on a design for a new house. The earliest plans called for a greenhouse-like south elevation with a layer of glazing between the greenhouse portion and the living quarters. Seeking to economize and simplify construction, I absorbed the greenhouse into the center of the house, which gave me a narrower footprint while also allowing me to separate my living quarters from my office. This strategy let the house assume a simple barnlike form.
In the final version, two separate volumes, distinct houses if you will, sit under a single gable roof with an open space in the middle that at once separates and unifies the two sides. I call the house a dog-run or dog-trot house after those early…