Founded in 2007 in Chicago’s residential Lakeview neighborhood, dSPACE Studio has become known for its striking, street-smart and sustainable custom residential projects, including urban dwellings and vacation homes. Alongside its distinctive contemporary aesthetic—often marked by generous glass enclosures, Earth tones, and intricately arranged forms—dSPACE is also adept at being multi-faceted, both in their designs that respond to client taste and locale, and the areas where the firm’s handiwork is found.
The dSPACE portfolio spans the United States and dips into international regions, but for Founding Principal Kevin Toukoumidis, AIA, LEED, it is western Michigan’s pristine landscapes and breathable lot spaces that make some of the best settings for creating impactful design—and recently the award-winning, architectural firm has expanded its footprint in the Great Lakes State.
“We embrace the opportunity to design homes in stunning landscapes. We always try to preserve and respect the site. It can be a great challenge, but it makes our job more fulfilling,” said Toukoumidis in reference to setting down roots in Michigan.
In the past decade, dSPACE has grown to include a second office in the Fennville and Saugatuck, Michigan area; and just last year they received commissions for four homes on the shores of Michigan and Indiana. With more projects currently in the works, Toukoumidis is eager to continue developing a presence in the Great Lakes State, where dSPACE’s city sensibilities can blend with the serene natural backdrops of the area to create efficient and sustainable spaces.
“We bring our urban background, which is really about designing efficient space and harnessing natural light and the outdoors. That translates well into homes on open land,” Toukoumidis said. “We can build a higher quality house for the same price, because we’re extremely efficient in our designs.”
The firm offers the Michigan market options to make homes sustainable, from products like triple-pane windows, solar power, geothermal systems, or even cutting-edge innovations like Tesla power systems. Serene, fragile dune faces, land undulations, and wooded areas that often surround Michigan homes also offer an opportunity for dSPACE to delve further into its affinity for seamlessly connecting interiors with their outdoor surroundings, both visually and spatially. Whether through generous windows that bring in the warm natural light or integrated outdoor rooms within the property, the studio takes care to access the best of a property and its natural appeal in its built design.
For one home designed for a young family in East Lansing, the firm created a residence in the design language of a classic Nantucket home—a design inspired by the client’s trip to the island. To respectfully transplant the island vernacular into the western Michigan setting, the team researched and gathered building codes and aesthetic requirements for the style, down to the very species of Canadian white cedar shingles needed for the façade. The team then envisioned an H-shaped layout that allowed every room natural light, and a shallow depth to the overall structure.
Likewise, dSPACE’s most recent beach house project takes care to respect existing design influences, in this case, a piece of Lake Michigan shoreline in New Buffalo, Michigan. Currently under construction, the home sits on a low bluff, with expansive beach views that the homeowner and design team wanted to keep public. The solution involved sinking the house a few feet to conceal private spaces, and to construct the exposed upper portion of the first story with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow a clear view of the water and sunset on the other side.
“It’s a very enjoyable walk down this beach road in New Buffalo. We wanted to build a house to occupy the land, but we still wanted to preserve water views for the public,” Toukoumidis said.
On the horizon, Toukoumidis sees the demand for innovative, contemporary, residential architecture growing in Michigan. The firm is poised to deliver, pairing its natural abilities for creating integrated, sustainable, and regionally considerate designs, with Michigan’s natural beauty and networks of talented craftspeople.
“Our firm is founded on a team approach—we built long-term relationships between architect, owner, and contractor. We want to work with the best craftspeople out there and Michigan has that,” Toukoumidis said. “It’s really exciting to see our footprint growing—there’s nothing like a site visit to the beach in the summer to check on construction and progress.”
Text: R. Collins
Photography: dSPACE Studio