Wednesday, October 26, 2016

0971 Plat House 3 modification in the works

We are in the midst of a plan modification for a Plat House 3 bedroom with a garage attached, and a unique metal + stone cladding scheme.

This includes a mudroom and utility space between the garage and laundry room of the standard plan. The garage is an oft requested expansion to the Plat House. Continue reading "0971 Plat House 3 modification in the works"

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Stacked Townhomes - typical configuration with rear garages

The precedent we are going to look at now is one of the most common configurations for Stacked Townhomes today. This is a three story two dwelling unit townhome configured with a 3 bedroom unit stacked over a 2 bedroom unit, with rear facing attached garages built into the volume of the house. Internally the units are in the typical stacked configuration with each unit consisting of 1 story + 1/2 floor.

I resist calling this the most “popular” configuration because I am not convinced that popularity among developers equals popularity among home buyers. Buyers are traditionally stuck with what is offered, and in this case the popularity among developers is more the result of unit yield per acre than a preference for the configuration of dwelling units.
Continue reading "Stacked Townhomes - typical configuration with rear garages"

Saturday, October 15, 2016

New Arkansas Plat House - night views

The New Arkansas Plat House has forwarded some new pictures of their home - night shots showing them enjoying their Plat House from their fire pit at night.

There are a couple of more night photos uploaded to the Flickr album. Continue reading "New Arkansas Plat House - night views"

Friday, September 16, 2016

0385 Tray House in the kitchen

Here is the casual relationship between the kitchen work area and the dining space of the Tray House. This can work for you if you like a large formal dining table and a kitchen table in the kitchen proper, or with a daily table in the dining area, and stools at the island in the kitchen for less formal meals. Continue reading "0385 Tray House in the kitchen"

Thursday, September 15, 2016

1201 XHouse5 backyard

The back of the XHouse5 has a pair of doors into the living room, and right beside it a door to the mud room. Above is the master bedroom, and bath. Continue reading "1201 XHouse5 backyard"

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

0967 XHouse3 the whole place

From this spot in the kitchen you can take in the entire XHouse3. Well.., not all of it, but its a cool view! Continue reading "0967 XHouse3 the whole place"

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

0357 Steel Case House party is always best in the kitchen

The Steel Case House may have a great living room, but the kitchen and family room is where everybody hangs out during a party! Continue reading "0357 Steel Case House party is always best in the kitchen"

Monday, September 12, 2016

0965 XHouse2 overview

The XHouse2 has the same plan and footprint as our iconic steel 3030 house design, but made instead with easy to build stud construction. Continue reading "0965 XHouse2 overview"

Friday, September 09, 2016

0380 Cube House upstairs family room

Well here it is, I don't know why we've waited so long to look at the Cube House's upstairs studio space, perhaps the most significant outcome of its interesting 2+3 story organization. If you recall the living room of this house is very high, with a story an a half space for a loft like living area. Above the living room is this studio space which is also a story and a half tall, and when combined with the living room equals the three stories on the other side of the house. So what do you do with this space? A kick-ass family room? A dancing or painting studio? Photography? You name it - its yours. Continue reading "0380 Cube House upstairs family room"

Thursday, September 08, 2016

0518 U House bedroom hallway

The bedroom hallway opposite the master bedroom wing in the U House has its own sliding door to the deck, all the better to create that wide open connection to the courtyard and the landscape beyond. Continue reading "0518 U House bedroom hallway"

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

0237 Pretender front facade

Well, this is it, the front of the Pretender. We've not been avoiding it, but we've spend all our time looking at the other parts of the house that are so obviously modern. But this is the business end of the house, where all the pretending goes on, for the sake of pacifying the neighbors that are less than open minded. So you can dress this up as a farm house, or put the big fat greek columns on it if thats what it takes. Just think of this side like a traditional blank slate. Do what you have to do to make it work and don't think twice about it. Its worth it to have your cool modern house thats hiding out back. Your welcome. Continue reading "0237 Pretender front facade"

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

1299 XHouse4 finally! all the way upstairs

If you've been following along with us we've been on a slow walk up the stairs to the attic floor of the XHouse4. And here we are - we've arrived! The attic floor is one large room, with wide dormers that admit a lot of light. There is a full bathroom, and an hvac closet, and storage closets under the sloped ceilings. This space can be split into two rooms if you wish, used as bedrooms, a great home office, a playroom for the kids, or anything else you can think of. So enjoy, its does not get much better than this. Continue reading "1299 XHouse4 finally! all the way upstairs"

Monday, September 05, 2016

0857 L House in the kitchen

Our last blog post for the L House showed a view down the circulation path that goes along the living spaces and ends at the kitchen. Today we are in the kitchen looking back into the living spaces, and we can see how the corner of the kitchen overlaps and is one with the circulation zone. A little overlapping of spaces happens because the kitchen extends out to the column line. This results in a kitchen that is in a discrete room, but still participates in the open plan living of the home. Continue reading "0857 L House in the kitchen"

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Stacked Townhomes - a second Philadelphia precedent

To follow up on the last Stacked Townhome precedent study today we look at another infill project in the same neighborhood of Philadelphia - Hawthorne. This example is a more representative example of a stacked townhouse because unlike the first one which was a flat under a two story unit, this example consists of two units that are 1 story + 1/2 floor. This configuration is more consistent with the contemporary model of Stacked Townhomes.

If you go back to my first post on this design study you can see a sketch of this configuration. There is typically a ground floor entry, one door for each unit, with one unit on the ground floor and half the second floor; and the second unit on half the second floor and the entire third floor. In this case the setting is urban, and the ground floor unit has a small rear yard, and the upper unit only a small balcony. On this site the rest of the lot depth back to the alleyway is dedicated to a shared parking lot.

Continue reading "Stacked Townhomes - a second Philadelphia precedent"

Friday, September 02, 2016

0738 Palo Alto the whole thing

And we conclude our tour of the Palo Alto house with a wide view of the entire living - dining - kitchen space, the back yard and the entry court. Continue reading "0738 Palo Alto the whole thing"

Thursday, September 01, 2016

0367 Porch House kitchen & table area

Now that we are upstairs in the Porch House we should finish looking around. From the living room here is the dining area and the galley kitchen beyond. The laundry in this compare weekender is right there - a stacked unit right next to the frig! Continue reading "0367 Porch House kitchen & table area"

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

0970 Lagom House kitchen time

This is the best way to understand the best features of the Lagom House design. This has has a unique balance of open plan living and discrete rooms. The kitchen, while a separate space, has an open view to the living room and the entry foyer - and is part of the circulation loop that runs around the ground floor. Continue reading "0970 Lagom House kitchen time"

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

0862 XHouse1 home office & studio

We've toured the entire XHouse1 now, but we've skipped past the studio/home office on the entry level just off the entry foyer. Because of the stacked terrace interior this space has a story and a half ceiling. A big window looks out to the front of the house, a small window to the entry niche, and the door to the foyer, a big room for a lot of possibilities. Continue reading "0862 XHouse1 home office & studio"

Monday, August 29, 2016

0242 Plat House front side of the house

The Plat House is all business on the back side, and on a need to know only basis on the front. What I'm trying to say is the side of the Plat house that faces your road or drive - max privacy, just windows needed for effective cross ventilation, and nothing else that distracts from the experience on the back side of the house. Continue reading "0242 Plat House front side of the house"

Friday, August 26, 2016

1204 RoHouse 2 1/2 story attic floor

One of the great things about the RoHouse Family of house designs is they are available in different heights - 2, 2 1/2, and 3 story designs. The 2 1/2 story design includes a dormered attic floor which can be used for a number of purposes. If you want an additional bedroom, here is the space. But if you want a home office, or a flexible family room, guest quarters the attic level has you covered. In this view we are looking at the longitudinal stair version of the plan. Continue reading "1204 RoHouse 2 1/2 story attic floor"

Thursday, August 25, 2016

0385 Tray House living room clerestory windows

The past couple of images from the Tray House have been from the upstairs hall, which has a view out this triangular side clerestory window. Its a great feature of the living room, letting in a lot of light, but still providing privacy to the side of the house facing neighbors. And as you can see in the upstairs hall images its a big part of the second floor environment as well. Continue reading "0385 Tray House living room clerestory windows"

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

1201 XHouse5 top of the stairs

On our way up stairs in the XHouse5, the last stop is the finished attic level. From the middle landing to the attic we can see the big common room on this top level, as well as the second floor hall and a sliver of a view into one of the bedrooms. The big attic room can be divided if it makes sense into another bedroom, guest room, or home office. Or remain a big play room or family room for all. Continue reading "1201 XHouse5 top of the stairs"

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

1192 Lagom House 2 Story kitchen

The kitchen of any home ends up being the hub of domestic life, and the Lagom House is no different. First off you need good work space - a generous amount of counter surface. Easy access to family life means its own "back-stair" access from the bedrooms upstairs. Good views and direct access to the backyard, for keeping eyes on kids, and for easy indoor and outdoor living. A window on the driveway to keep an eye on the comings and goings of kids and cars. And proximity to other workspaces - the laundry room is immediately adjacent, and its a short hop to the front door as well. Continue reading "1192 Lagom House 2 Story kitchen"

Monday, August 22, 2016

Stacked Townhomes - Philadelphia, a resource for everything row house

Those who followed my Row House design study know that I relied on the rich stock of row house housing prototypes in nearby Philadelphia. The city contains a broad range of row house precedents from colonial times to the present. Almost every variation in row houses is represented in the city, so it should come as no surprise that there are examples of Stacked Townhomes in recent history.

When I was a young architect that landed in Philadelphia I immediately became aware of this scattered site infill project which consisted of a mix of two story townhouses, and a curious precursor to the stacked townhouse. This was a three story row house configured as a two story unit above a one story flat. These were built on some grant program that made the houses more affordable to low income home buyers, and at the time they were built the neighborhood was just beginning a transition through redevelopment.
Continue reading "Stacked Townhomes - Philadelphia, a resource for everything row house"

0967 XHouse3 master bedroom

If you remember the last post for the XHouse3 we were at the top of the stair looking back down. When we get to the very top we arrive at the master bedroom. You can just see the top of the stair landing and railing out the bedroom door. To one side is a walk-in master closet, and in the corresponding side out of frame to the right is the door to the master bathroom. And right in front of your floating bed is a big window that overlooks the back yard, all the better if you have a nice view. Continue reading "0967 XHouse3 master bedroom"

Friday, August 19, 2016

0357 Steel Case House living room niche

The living room of the Steel Case House has a nice feature - a small niche, a room within a room if you will. This is a perfect spot for a more intimate seating group, perhaps a place for smaller video screen, or a place to set up a home desk, or a spot for that collection of whatever it is you collect. Its your call. Continue reading "0357 Steel Case House living room niche"

Thursday, August 18, 2016

0965 XHouse2 back porch

The back porch of the XHouse2 is one of the best assets of this design. A front porch is a great feature for a house, and a great interface with the street. Few realize how a back porch makes a similar great interface to your own backyard. A great place to hang out, a place for your summer dinner table, and fun to watch that summer thunder storm from under cover. Continue reading "0965 XHouse2 back porch"

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

0380 Cube House master bedroom

The Cube House master bedroom is on the rear side of the second floor. It has a sliding barn door entry, which actually opens all the way up onto the stair landing. So when closes, total privacy, when open a bright spot that allows light to reach the stair. Continue reading "0380 Cube House master bedroom"

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

0518 U House master bedroom

If we were going to stand at the very tip of the U House, all the way at the end of the master bedroom, and look back this is what we'd see! If you look through the master bedroom door between the two closets you see the hall window, and through that you see the living room windows, and through those windows you seek the kitchen cabinets! Continue reading "0518 U House master bedroom"

Monday, August 15, 2016

0237 Pretender dining room

One last view inside the Pretender, from the dining room looking into the family room. This casual interface between the two rooms makes it possible for the dining room to expand at holidays and family gatherings so the table can expand into the family room if needed. The adjacent kitchen also has an open door policy to the dining room, with two doorways, one from the work area and one from the table. So while its an open plan, there is still the definition of a discrete dining room. Continue reading "0237 Pretender dining room"

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stacked Townhomes - a Russian precedent

Thanks go out to reader Tony Denzer for his observation and recall. Tony pointed out this Russian precedent of an apartment building that follows the pattern of stacked townhouse.

This interesting example was published in the well known book Modern Architecture: A Critical History by Kenneth Frampton. Here this design by Ivanov and Lavinsky is described as a precursor to Le Corbusier's Unite stacked apartments. The Russian pair prepared this design for an international housing competition in 1927 and it is believed that this design is something that Corbu would have been well aware of by the time he designed his own apartment units.

Although the 1 & 1/2 floor configuration of the apartment units are the same as Corbu's Unite, the apartment buildings themselves are very different. The Russian apartment building is not a tall multi-story block, but rather just a 3 story building containing only the two stacked units, however they are oriented off a central hallway suggesting a long horizontal apartment block.

Also of interest in this scheme is the outdoor space for each unit, in both cases off the shared bedroom. Since access to the units appears to be from the common hallway, this means the ground floor bedroom can have an outdoor space that is not an entry porch. Continue reading "Stacked Townhomes - a Russian precedent"

Friday, August 12, 2016

1299 XHouse4 on the stair second floor landing

If you've been following along with the image posts of the XHouse4 you've been coming along for this walk up the stairs. Not a better way to get a feel for the house and its vertical dimension. Today we've arived at the second floor and we have a view of the bedroom areas and the hallway leading to the master bedroom at the far end. The bathrooms and laundry room are on the left, and the kids bedrooms are on the right. The stair landing also has this nice bench, flanked by some storage cabinets, or bookshelves. Next we'll continue up to the attic floor. Continue reading "1299 XHouse4 on the stair second floor landing"

Thursday, August 11, 2016

0857 L House ground floor circulation axis

This view betrays a bit of the pragmatic planning of the L House design. This is the circulation path along the ground floor, which is adjacent to the entry foyer and the stair that we looked at in the last image post. You can see that this path runs all the way into the kitchen in the distance, and if we turned around it would lead to the home office, and the door to the family room. Rational and inspired! Continue reading "0857 L House ground floor circulation axis"

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

0738 Palo Alto master bedroom

Here finally is the master bedroom of the Palo Alto house. It has its own door to the backyard, and its own small patio just outside with its own porch roof that joins up to the rest of the yard. For me this has always evoked my childhood memories of vacation road trips with my family, staying in mid-century modern motels on the road. These would often have a picture window next to the door (with privacy curtains of course!). These rooms would typically have a couple of sitting chairs by the window, maybe a small table. So here is a little shout out to road trips and the great motels of days gone by! Continue reading "0738 Palo Alto master bedroom"

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

0367 Porch House living room

Last image of the Porch House we shared was the view from the top of the stairs, and this week we turn to the right to take in the view from the big picture window at the end of the living room - the window that wraps around the corner! In our model the ceiling is finished with handsome tongue and groove pine boards to play up the rustic atmosphere. The space is tall at the far end, but the proportions are still intimate and the space welcoming and cozy. The room overlooks the stairway up from the porch level, and the two bedrooms are out of frame to the right. Continue reading "0367 Porch House living room"

Monday, August 08, 2016

0970 Lagom House master bedroom

And now ladies and gentlemen, this very pleasant room is the Master Bedroom of the Lagom House. Needs more furniture, and some art on the walls! But the pleasant light and big shaded windows, that is everything promised by the Lagom House. The great sloping roof of the Lagom House that is a platform for solar energy collection also creates the cozy dormered bedroom spaces on the second floor, similar to a traditional bungalow. This is all part of creating a compact and efficient floor plan, a compact house that sips energy. Continue reading "0970 Lagom House master bedroom"

Friday, August 05, 2016

0862 XHouse1 master bedroom

At the top of the winding stair of the XHouse1 lies the master bedroom at the highest level. When you reach this point you have returned to the back of the house and the Master Bedroom has a large window wall looking out over the landscape from there. Continue reading "0862 XHouse1 master bedroom"

Thursday, August 04, 2016

0242 Plat House kitchen table

The kitchen table bay window at the Plat House exists in two place - at once a perch into the landscape, and at the same time part of the open living - dining - kitchen space. Continue reading "0242 Plat House kitchen table"

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

1204 RoHouse longitudinal stair plan

Last time we looked at the first time at the interior of the longitudinal stair version of the RoHouse design. I described the different strategy this version uses to create privacy from the street by placing the kitchen work space up front with a vestibule between the front door and the living space. Here is the view from the rear door to the yard where you can see the pass thru to the kitchen and a glimpse of the front door. Continue reading "1204 RoHouse longitudinal stair plan"

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

0385 Tray House upstairs hall - on the tray

Our last post was from the upstairs hall of the Tray House, and again we have another image from here, at the top of the stair looking out the triangular clerestory window at the end of the house. I love the place at the jamb of the basement door where the big window is right there! Its like the two worlds - the living room, and the upstairs hall - coming together! Continue reading "0385 Tray House upstairs hall - on the tray"

Monday, August 01, 2016

1201 XHouse5 master bedroom

The back half of the second floor of the XHouse5 is the master bedroom suite. To the left is the master bathroom and out of frame to the left the walk-in closet. A big window faces the rear yard, and a high window for privacy faces the side towards neighbors. Continue reading "1201 XHouse5 master bedroom"

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Stacked Townhomes - looking for historic precedent

I’ve not been able to shed any light on to the emergence of this housing form. Web searches yield little as even the terminology seems loose. The term "Stacked Townhomes" is not reliably used to describe the form. 

I don't deny that somewhere out there is the original Stacked Townhome building, the one that was actually the first time it was built. Or there may be a paper or scholarship on this, but it did not reveal itself obviously to me, so the origin and genesis of the idea will have to remain a mystery. Perhaps one of you readers will have examples that take us back closer to Stacked Townhouse Zero, and I welcome any insights or contributions that shed light on this. Till such a time we will just proceed to examine the resources that I know and that lend some insight. Let's begin.

Continue reading "Stacked Townhomes - looking for historic precedent"

Friday, July 29, 2016

1192 Lagom House 2 Story upstairs hall

When you reach the top of the stairs in the Lagom House you are greeted by this wonderful window seat and a great view of your neighborhood. The bedrooms in the 2 story version all face the bak yard, so they are all to your right in this view. Beyond the linen cabinet is the kids homework desk and hobby area and the kids bathroom at the end of the hall. Not a square inch is wasted in this design. Continue reading "1192 Lagom House 2 Story upstairs hall"

Thursday, July 28, 2016

0967 XHouse3 on the stair and still climbing

We explained in an earlier post how the XHouse3 has this unique split level second floor, where the two bedrooms are at the top of the stair, and the master suite another few steps up. This raised master bedroom provide for a couple of feet bump in the height of the ceiling in the living room and kitchen setting it off as the center of life in the house. From that juncture of the few steps up to the master we can take it all in - master bedroom door to the left, peering down to the living room at the center, and the stair landing at the bedrooms on the right. Can you see it? Continue reading "0967 XHouse3 on the stair and still climbing"

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

0357 Steel Case House bedroom loft

In a nod to the Case Study House #8 which inspired the Steel Case House design, the master bedroom is configured like a loft overlooking the living room. Although the rendering shows this as an open loft its possible to configure this for rolling shutter that would provide privacy when desired. Continue reading "0357 Steel Case House bedroom loft"

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

0965 XHouse2 at the top of the stair

At the top of the stair in the XHouse2 you come to the master bedroom. It has its own deck / balcony and a pair of big doors that let a lot of light in, but well shaded under the porch roof. A modest but ample master bathroom and walk-in dressing closet completes the master suite. So much in such little space - that is the real beauty of this house. Continue reading "0965 XHouse2 at the top of the stair"

Monday, July 25, 2016

Stacked Townhomes - a new prototype design study

Longtime readers of my blog will know I often take part in an open development process here, sharing the development of new designs as they happen via this blog. The last time I did this was the development of our 1204 RoHouse family of townhouse designs. Now I am looking for my developer / builder readers to give me feedback on the question of developing plan sets for Stacked Townhouses. 

For those not familiar with the term, stacked townhouses are a form of duplex dwellings where instead of being side by side like Twin Houses, or one above the other like Flats, stack townhouses fit two dwelling units into a single 3 story row house unit. Because each unit occupies a floor and a half, and often is made to have each unit connect to a ground level garage, the internal arrangements can be quite entangled and contorted. Here however is not where the problem lies. The problem with these units is they typically result in a poor urban plan with no private outdoor space and awkward entries.

Yet units in this configuration have become tremendously popular with mid and large size developers. Why, why would a home configuration that produces poor and awkward urban spaces be so popular? Yield. Two units combined into a single 3story building takes up less ground area than a pair of twins, or a pair of flats. The lack of yards also increases the yield and ambiguous pedestrian “streets” reduces road infrastructure - all increasing the profit potential of a development.

But why do home owners like them? Well, not everybody who aspires to be a home owner wishes to have a big yard to take care of,  walks to shovel in winter, leaves to rake in fall. Yet many do not want to live in a large apartment building, or a large and complex condominium. These stacked townhomes fill a small gap in the marketplace of housing and I see them in the mix of most large suburban townhouse developments.

But this popularity does not mean that the stack townhome designs on the market are ideal. In fact they are weak on many fronts. I believe I can satisfy the developers desire for yield, and improve the quality of life for occupants. I intend to conduct an open design study through our blog, and if I can come up with improved prototypes I will develop them into houseplans and offer them through our site.

So please stay tuned and follow the series. We are going to start with examining some existing precedents, and typical arrangements. This process will be similar to the townhouse study I published while developing the RoHouse family of townhouse designs. I need you my readers to contribute observations of existing prototypes so that we can gain as much insight as possible.

Are you ready for this? We are! Continue reading "Stacked Townhomes - a new prototype design study"

0380 Cube House the stair starts right here

This is where the central stair of the Cube House begins - off the dining area next to the kitchen and living room, just down the hall from the entry foyer. In this exposure the stair well is dark but it will actually lead up to several bright spaces which we will see in coming images. Stick with us! Continue reading "0380 Cube House the stair starts right here"

Friday, July 22, 2016

0518 U House

Where the master bedroom hall meets the living room the transparency of the U House reveals itself in interesting ways! Continue reading "0518 U House "

Thursday, July 21, 2016

0237 Pretender upstairs hall

Even from the upstairs hallway of the Pretender you have this connection to the family room. Continue reading "0237 Pretender upstairs hall"