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"

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

1299 XHouse4 on the way upstairs

Here we go upstairs in the XHouse4. When you get to the first landing look back towards the living room kitchen dining and and the front study. The powder room is there under the stair. A bench for pulling your shoes off just to the other side. Ok, now we know where we've been, lets go on up! Continue reading "1299 XHouse4 on the way upstairs"

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

0857 L House entry foyer

Here is a look at the front entry hall of the L House. It not unusual for a traditional house to have the stair right there in the front entry hall. This was traditionally a matter of efficiency and practicality. The stair has to go somewhere, so it makes sense for it to share space with an entry hall, a room that otherwise does not get used that much. But its more recently become a way to show off, the bigger and more elaborate the stair the better. But when we make a modern house here we like to leave most of that baggage behind. The stair and the entry foyer do live well together and complement each other. At the same time I don't relish walking through my foyer on the way to my kitchen in the morning. But is possible for the two spaces to be together and benefit from each others space and light, without the awkward parts, like the L House does here! Continue reading "0857 L House entry foyer"

Monday, July 18, 2016

0738 Palo Alto at the kitchen table

We've been touring all around the Palo Alto house, we've been out front, in the back yard, in the living room, so its time to take a break at the kitchen table. The kitchen table, so often the hub of family life, here in the Palo Alto house its also located at the hub of the house. From here you are at once in the font court, the entry foyer, the dining and living room and the back yard beyond. Continue reading "0738 Palo Alto at the kitchen table"

Friday, July 15, 2016

0367 Porch House we're here!

We've poked around downstairs, outside, and on the screened porch long enough, time to go upstairs and see the cool modern home provided by the Porch House. Here at the top of the stairs we turn towards the open kitchen - dining - and living area. Continue reading "0367 Porch House we're here!"

Thursday, July 14, 2016

0970 Lagom House back patio

We spend a lot of time talking about how the Lagom House is really green, and energy efficient, how its Swedish style wall construction is smart and easy to build. But all that talk tends to ignore the more immediate points about this house. That its simply a great place to live. This great patio overlooking the backyard, the bright and comfortable living spaces, the cozy dormer bedrooms. The fact that this design will sip energy is frosting on the cake. Continue reading "0970 Lagom House back patio"

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

0862 XHouse1 from the kitchen to the deck

Here from the kitchen of the XHouse1 we can see clear down through the living room out to the deck. The kitchen and the dining area share this terrace in the large lofty living space. On the next level dow in the main living space sharing the double height ceiling with the kitchen, just beyond is a more intimate portion of the living room with a lower ceiling, but a glass wall to the deck beyond. And if we look up to the right we have a glimpse of the hallway outside the bedrooms and the master bedroom sanctuary at the end of the path at the highest level. Continue reading "0862 XHouse1 from the kitchen to the deck"

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

0242 Plat House at home

Here is the classic view of the Plat House living room, the space everybody falls for, and builds for themselves. The entry way closets flank the wood stove, and a frosted glass panel screens the living room from the entry. The second bedroom and bath is beyond, and the entry from the mud room at the end of the circulation path. The back wall is line with built ins, a place for your record collection, your travel memorabilia, the good dishes, those yard sale finds, the photo album, all a few steps away. Continue reading "0242 Plat House at home"

Monday, July 11, 2016

1204 RoHouse inside the longitudinal plan

In our last few posts we looked inside the transverse plan, but now its time to look at the inside of the other RoHouse plan, the longitudinal plan. It does not share the split level of the transverse plan, all of the longitudinal plan is on the same level. So access to the rear court is ready for you, and this design uses a different strategy for distancing the living space from the street. In this case the workspace of the kitchen forms the buffer between the street and the living space. So the bulk of the floor plan is made of of this great open plan living and dining space with the stair at the rear rising to the middle of the second floor, and out front the kitchen and vestibule sheltering the living space from the activity of the street. A very different solution than the live-in kitchen of the other plan, but just as strong. Continue reading "1204 RoHouse inside the longitudinal plan"

Friday, July 08, 2016

0385 Tray House over the rail

The upstairs hall of the Tray House is open to the living space below, and if you peak over the railing this is what you'll see. The dining room to one side, the living room to the other. A bedroom at the end of the hall, and bedroom and bath out of frame to the left, behind us the master bedroom. A huge lofty living space communicating between ground floor and upstairs. Continue reading "0385 Tray House over the rail"

Thursday, July 07, 2016

1201 XHouse5 living spaces

Looking at the living / dining space of the XHouse5 entering from the foyer, kitchen in its large niche on the left. There is lots of room for two seating areas, and for the daily table to expand for holidays as needed. Continue reading "1201 XHouse5 living spaces"

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

1192 Lagom House 2 Story on the stair

Continuing the theme of going upstairs, lets go upstairs in the Lagom 2 Story house. Here is the view up the stairs from the landing between the kitchen and the living / dining room. The kitchen is on the left, the dining table on the right with the home office beyond the partition in the background. Up the top of the stairs we see the big window at the window seat in the upstairs hall. Continue reading "1192 Lagom House 2 Story on the stair"

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

0967 XHouse3 on the stairs

We've been around and inside the XHouse3, but now we're going to go upstairs. You can see the stair in the corner of the living room in the other pictures, but here is the landing on the way up. From here you can see upstairs and downstairs at the same time. Up ahead you can see the two bedroom doors on the left, but on the right we can see the smaller run of steps that go up to the master bedroom. This extra height translates to a high ceiling in the living spaces below. Continue reading "0967 XHouse3 on the stairs"

Friday, July 01, 2016

0357 Steel Case House upstairs hall

In the spirit of fully describing our house plan designs, today we take you to the upstairs hallway of the Steel Case House. This space is at once very ordinary, and completely demonstrative of everything this house is about. Soak it in! Continue reading "0357 Steel Case House upstairs hall"