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Greg and Diane Kaufmann Residence

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin USA






Construction begins summer of 2001 Greg Kaufmann is a Lutheran minister and administrator. Diane Kaufmann is a pioneer of ecological farming in the State of Wisconsin. They have two grown children who often return to stay with their parents. Greg and Diane wished to have a new home that expressed their outlook and way of life living closely with the hard work, the rhythms and beauty of country living. With a strong ecologically-based life philosophy, they set out to create a house that reflected their values and dreams.

The house is largely underground with a brilliant metallic gold undulating roof above ground level. The roof has a series of undulations which help dissipate tornado wind forces and also provide a multiple drain system that funnels rain water to an interior/exterior wetlands pond for recycling black and grey water for reuse. The roof also features a series of random order slight protrusions which deter wind uplift and help tornado winds pass over the house with minimum suction. The horse-shoe shaped plan allows the maximum amount of solar exposure throughout the year. Only this shape allows for this. This shape also helps to create a wind buffer from the northwest and southwest; the two main directions of tornado movement.

The house contains two bedrooms and two offices with an open kitchen and dining area at a raised area which overlooks the living room, interior recycled water waterfall and wetlands pond. There are two large storage spaces to the extreme north of the house. To the southeast is an enclosed in-law apartment which is conical for aerodynamic stability. The most exciting feature of the interior is the seven dynamically undulating roof beams. Made of layered plywood, these beams create a moving sense of space and help resist the pushing and pulling forces of possible tornados.

The house also features a bright orange colored three car garage with an upper level workspace. An underground tunnel leads from the garage to the house and both structures are partially embedded in the ground complementing the natural slope of the Wisconsin hillside. The brilliant gold and orange reflect the natural seasonal colors of the area.

The entire house and garage structure is made of prefabricated Styrofoam and steel grid mesh panels manufactured by Insteel Company in Georgia. This panels are economical, easy to position and provide all insulation and structural requirements given by State codes. The house is entirely made of spray-on concrete and Wisconsin stone. The concrete is smooth in areas, textured in others. Floors and walls contain recycled hot water pipes for radiant heating provided by letting the pipes flow through the chimney to heat them.

House, family and natural environment are mutual participants in a living unity.



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