After a long and iterative design process, we finally have a plan for the house, with buy in from the clients. This preliminary design is a modern variation on the classic center entrance colonial that is found throughout the neighborhood. Many different organizations of the interior spaces were considered, including different arrangements of stairs. In the end, though, putting the stairs in the center front of the plan not only helps create architectural continuity with the surrounding context but also provides the best access to light and air for the spaces on both occupied floors.
Main Living Floors
As the diagrams shown here suggest, the Entry Hall on the First Floor offers a place of repose before entering the social nexus of the house, a large open space made up of the kitchen, dining and living rooms. This space can be extended onto the back porch and surrounding garden in the swing season through a wall of sliding doors. Tucked into the corner of the living room, opposite the porch, is an inglenook, a sociopetal space for quiet conversation.
The rear wing of the house includes a laundry room / pantry, bathroom and multipurpose space looking out onto the garden. This suite is intended to provide a place for the client’s cranio-sacral healing practice, a relatively quiet and private space with its own garden entrance. As the couple ages and stairs become a barrier, this suite can be reconfigured as the new master bedroom instead. The bathroom is ADA accessible not only for visitors but also for the residents if they one day find themselves with limited mobility.
Upstairs, we find a generous light-filled stair hall with a window seat, in-between space, a place of repose. Arrayed around this hall are the Master Bedroom Suite, the Guest Bedroom Suite and a Den. The Den is just barely big enough to serve as a second guest room and has a door into the Guest Bath. The Master Bedroom Suite has its own elevated sitting porch (accessed through the Master Bath) overlooking the garden.
The Basement is intended primarily as utility spaces housing the HVAC system, two large digester / composter systems, workshop and storage (including a second pantry and canning kitchen). An exterior door and stair on the side of the house allows equipment and organic materials harvested from the composters to be moved in and out of the house without going through the living spaces upstairs. The basement also houses a second multipurpose room with its own bathroom. This space is intended primarily as an exercise room but can also serve as a summer bedroom, a place where the family can escape the worst of the summer heat without relying on air-conditioning.
The roof form has not been completely resolved. The default (rendered above) is a flat roof. We have also considered a shed roof (below), which is NOT one of the roof-forms we explored for solar potential in a previous post. The form factor of the house plan has evolved away from a balanced L-shape and toward two parallel bars, which does not work well with the hipped and gabled forms we explored previously, nor the Cutting Corners shape we had considered.
Our next task will be to design the garden spaces more intensively and establish the paths of nutrients, physical and spiritual between the indoor and outdoor spaces.
Although we feel that we have a design that works well for the clients’ lifestyle, and which helps establish a strong connection with the surrounding environment, we still need to do a more rigorous analysis of the home’s daylighting and passive solar performance. We have identified a couple design options for increasing or decreasing the solar gain on the front facade as needed to optimize the energy performance for the house. These will be discussed in the context of the energy analysis.