Back in 2009, my wife was pregnant with our first child. As any new parents would do, we enrolled in a baby class to prepare ourselves for the ongoing pregnancy, the birth process, and the totally daunting post-birth process (the part where they let you leave the hospital with a 3-day old completely devoid of supervision). It was in this class I first met Christian Milaster. He explained that he was a German engineer (destroying all of my stereotypes) and that he lived in a passive solar house in Lanesboro that was 100% off the grid. Well then we really had something to talk about.
I later took a tour of Project Licht n Stein in Lanesboro and saw first hand his passion for minimizing wasted energy and water while not sacrificing the niceties of modern living (a hot shower, charging all of our devices, etc.). Over the years since that tour, I have kept up a casual email relationship with Christian, but he reached out recently to ask for help with a new client desiring to build an off-the-grid home of their own here in Rochester.
I jumped at the chance to learn more and to take my own interest and passion for sustainable design to the next level. We began working through the floor plan that maximized southern solar exposure and thermal mass. The exterior walls are to be insulated concrete forms or ICF. This extremely energy efficient exterior wall combines structure and insulation in an air-tight envelope. The owners had strong feelings about making it appear more than just an unadorned box on top of the prairie, so 9.SQUARE helped in designing a farmhouse aesthetic that incorporated salvaged barn wood and traditional details. The result is a residence that marries the empirical performance goals of a passive house with the understated appearance of farmhouse vernacular.