Shorewood Home

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This Shorewood Home was an urban infill construction project on a previously developed site, requiring careful deconstruction to remove a deteriorating home on the verge of condemnation. Located in a dense, walkable neighborhood with existing infrastructure, the site met the owner’s desires for access to shared open space with playgrounds and public parks nearby, a location close to multi-modal transit options with the Oak Leaf Trail, County Bus lines and Interstate Highway within easy access, and all necessary goods and services for living just a short walk or bike ride away.

Physical Development/Environmental Stewardship

The home is a compact three bedrooms, three bath home of 1,600 square feet with a 200 square feet office for an onsite entrepreneurial business and an attached garage. It has no basement, eliminating cost and unnecessary infrastructure.  Including the office, this building is roughly 30% smaller than a typical new U.S. home, requiring fewer materials to construct and less resource consumption to operate.

Located on a Northwest corner site that can maximize available solar exposure to the south and east, the home was designed to be highly energy efficient. The structure was pushed to the setback perimeter establishing thinner volumes that increased the ability to take advantage of natural daylight and vent, as well as creating space for an interior courtyard microclimate to stretch the outdoor seasons. During construction efforts were taken to minimize waste and divert as much unused material as possible from the landfill.

Highlights of the property include:

Designed to be nearly “off the grid” energy efficient

  • Ample natural day lighting, cross ventilation, ground linked thermal mass concrete floors, spray foam insulation (including garage) and exterior microclimate courtyards help minimize need for lighting and space conditioning.
  • Efficient hot water distribution is provided through one central stack with minimized distribution runs and related losses of energy.
  • Solar thermal renewable energy collector panels heat the home hydronically and supplement domestic hot water.
  • Double paned, energy efficient windows with high performance insulating U factor (made in Wisconsin).
  • Nearly all lighting is LED, most efficient bulbs available in the market.
  • Both local and whole house venting are installed to provide fresh air exchange and moisture control
  • Home is designed for, wired, and ready to add solar photovoltaic panels that would allow the home to become effectively net-zero energy by powering all electrical use with solar.

Efficient water usage

  • Low flow toilets (1.28 gallons per flush)
  • Harvesting system on the exterior of the home captures rainwater in four rain barrels and a buried cistern to provide site irrigation.
  • Limited conventional turf, and native, drought tolerant plants, zero mechanical irrigation, and permeable hardscapes.
  • 100% of storm water is captured on-site with storage capacity for each rain event of up to 9,000 gallons more than a typical yard of similar size using rain barrels, rain gardens, a buried cistern and green roofs.
  • By capturing, harvesting, storing, and slowly discharging water on the site, the impact on waterways, including nearby Lake Michigan, is minimized and water quality is improved.

Low Maintenance, non-toxic, reclaimed materials

  • Durable choices (such as brick cladding and concrete floors) provide long-lasting, maintenance free construction to minimize upkeep time and energy, and eliminate replacement costs and materials
  • Detailed framing documents were developed to customize wood members to minimize waste.  Where possible, framing was built to standard sizes.
  • Low VOC Paint to minimize interior toxins.
  • No carpet to minimize collection of dirt and other contaminants
  • Cabinetry and woodwork do not contain formaldehyde or other toxic preservatives.
  • Reclaimed materials throughout the house include cream city bricks from the Schlitz Brewhouse, wind-felled old growth pine beams, granite post footings from salvaged Lake Park lion bridge, cypress pickle-barrel exterior siding, high grade cedar salvaged from Port Washington home deconstruction, maple wood flooring salvaged from Milwaukee deconstruction at 17th and North Avenue, and wood beams salvaged from an old Third Ward warehouse used to make a bench and a vanity top.
  • Maple stairs and woodwork throughout the house sourced from Milwaukee’s urban forest and from trees in SE Wisconsin.

Community Development/Social Equity/Cultural Continuity

In alignment with the Milwaukee Foodie/Shop Locally climate of its Shorewood neighborhood, this home’s landscape features primarily edible plants and the entire home incorporates custom design and the work of many local craftsmen and artists including:

  • Cabinetry pulls made locally by Contemporary Pull, a company committed to sustainable production.
  • Stair Rail, Coat Hooks, Office Door, Laundry Doors and Front Door Canopy by Oxbow Studio.
  • Artwork by Pius XI HS Seniors and local artist Jennifer Espenscheid, The Soma Show.

Photo Gallery


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