Union Pier Passive House


This new home and studio is sited on a wooded lot a few blocks from Lake Michigan. The design began with the intention of keeping all the mature trees, and finding ways to connect indoors and out; the solution was to situate the garage/studio and house at the opposite ends of the lot, connected via a trail through the woods.


The biophilic design principle of Prospect and Refuge shaped the plan. The living room contrasts the low-ceilinged back with the woodstove against its two-story space with high windows, which flood the home with light even when trees are leafed out. The entry composition suggests that tall space inside while introducing tactile wood and stone within reach and at eye level. The patio and screened porch flow from the interior, and provide places for enjoying the birds, dappled light, and ever-changing mood of the woodland landscape.


As a Phius certified project, this all-electric house will use a fraction of the energy of a code-built house, while ensuring comfort, resiliency, and great indoor air quality. Construction materials were chosen for low-carbon content: the wood-framed double-stud walls and roof are insulated with carbon-negative cellulose, minimizing the use of foam.

Expected Completion Date

General Contractor
Estkowski Builders

Structural Engineer
C.E. Anderson & Associates

Energy Use per Architecture 2030
pEUI = 12.31, 75% reduction