Location: Holland, Michigan
Shear House is conceived as a prototype to fill the “Missing Middle,” a series of housing typologies providing walkable, urban living that bridges the gap between suburban, detached homes and dense urban living and commercial development. Of the Missing Middle housing types, a live/work typology, providing both residential and commercial space, is a natural fit for sites at a threshold between traditional suburban neighborhood of single-family homes and retail and commercial programs, along an urban arterial street. The organization and massing of the project is set up as a modular grid of interior and exterior spaces working together to bridge between the scale of a dense urban street, with a more commercial focus, and single-family residential neighborhoods. While this design proposal uses a specific site located in Detroit, Michigan for its context, the design strategy is a prototype, applicable to any site appropriate for creating this bridge between dense urban development and single-family residential neighborhoods. This massing also maximizes natural light reaching interior spaces, and views out to the surrounding community. Shear House proposes an architectural concept that “shears,” or shifts, the live and work programs in section to establish voids of community space for residents that become shared interior entry foyers/living rooms at the street level, and exterior gardens at the residential level. The living units themselves are then also “sheared” vertically. This intertwines the vertical circulation in the center, while maintaining separation for private circulation within in each unit. Fundamentally, the purpose of this metaphorical "knot" is to create blended access to shared community space for residents. Overall, the mix of live/work program, and the organization of this program in plan and section, is intended to foster natural interaction between residents, and the larger community, that is more continually active during days, nights and weekends.