“Response” House PART 1
This home is designed for a pair of contemporary artists, and set in Portland, Oregon, on a corner lot in the West Hills. All aspects of the house are intended to provide questions, or an opportunity for response. This intention is reflected in the materials and color palette which mixed metals, stone, glass, and mirrored surfaces, and vibrant, slightly dissonant, teals, greens, oranges, as well as brass, and silver tones. An exterior-facing moisture-activated LED-embedded water-wall provides a point of inspiration for users both inside and outside the home. Expansive social spaces in the interior great room, as well as outside in the front and back yards, invite users to sit, stay, and chat a while. These spaces also provide the forum for new connections to be made between users and neighbors or passersby. Finally, and perhaps most notably, the slanted architecture of the home’s center piece creates a dynamic, forward-moving statement, as does the entirely green-wall encased garage.
It was required that the home be relatively small in size. The initial draft of my model did not exceed 1200 square feet, but included a full living room, dining room, kitchen, hall bathroom, studio, guest loft, storage loft, garage, and the master bedroom and bathroom, both of which were found in the basement. A renovation of that model required an additional 600 square feet, and provided the space for an enlarged great room upstairs, as well as the inclusion of an office space, family room, and walk-in master closet downstairs.
Best of all - in my eyes - is the inclusion of various important sustainable design principles. First of all, living small. Even a conventional home can save vast amounts of energy and resources as compared to a highly sustainable home, so long as it is short on the square footage. This home was particularly efficient space-wise in its first iteration and did not actually need to be enlarged to suit the needs of one couple with occasional guests. Second, southward-facing orientation in combination with thermal mass, thermal insulation, strategic windows and a few other elements help to make this home highly efficient at keeping its own temperature regulated. Western and northern faces especially were attended to, mitigating overheating from the summer sunset on that western side, and keeping cold northern exposure at a minimum, while using even northern light to the home’s advantage. These and many other details make this home appropriately sustainable designed for its Portland, Oregon setting.
Now, all that’s well and good. The real catch to this project is that, not only were we to design a proper home that adequately responded to program requirements while suggesting thorough, cohesive, and innovative design choices, we had to do it on an entirely new-to-us 3D rendering software, ArchiCAD.
It took diligent effort over the course of many, many weeks to even hope we would accomplish all that was required! I can’t tell you how many late night texts were exchanged between myself and a few classmates about how the devil to “make this one thing do that, and the other to do this.” Meanwhile our families were soundly tucked into bed, none the wiser.
You know those memes that go around about architecture students whiling away the wee hours in search of nigh-well unattainable perfection? Those are accurate.
But, hey, in the end we managed to pull of stuff like this. While it’s not perfection by any means, we molded an idea into digital reality.
Here’s to our amazing, patient professor who tolerated, even encouraged (and responded to!) all of our one thousand questions (I’m really not even sure that number’s an exaggeration), and the magic that is ArchiCAD. Magic.
Look out for PARTS 2 and 3! This project is not even close to the end of its 15 minutes.