Architect: Ramsey Jones Architects
Contractor: Common Advantage
This high performance and purpose built residence is a highly livable, durable and low operating cost home comfortably nested in an older urban neighborhood. Material textures and details hint at existing Craftsman bungalows, while low-slung linear masses lend modern lines to the structure.
Constrained to the rear corner of the property, and lacking an alley for car access, of great concern was limiting the negative impact of a garage on the front elevation and the interior dead zone often created beyond.
Embracing the ample southern exposure with a U-shaped building abutting setbacks on all four sides, a semi-private entry courtyard was created which buffers the public realm substantially via raised elevation and a planted screen, while still maintaining a light, glassy and transparent façade.
Wrapping these narrow building volumes around the perimeter establishes well day-lighted and naturally ventilated spaces, and cradles the entry courtyard, expanding the perceived square footage of the 1700 SF residence with the direct connection of 16'-0" sliding door panels. This masonry flanked and sheltered space also stretches the seasons as a solar-warmed microclimate in the shoulder months, whereas the covered exterior space provides welcomed shade in the heat of summer.
Depressing the garage and locating it tight against the western edge and tall neighboring building minimized its focal impact on the primary facade, while limiting the interior space adversely affected by its bulk.
Deeply green, the residence incorporates extensive passive and active techniques and systems to minimize initial impact and ongoing costs. Passive systems include natural day-lighting, cross ventilation, ground linked thermal mass concrete floors, green roof systems and microclimate spaces for comfort. Active systems include solar thermal hot water and solar photovoltaic panels on the low-slope roofs.
An existing dilapidated residence on the property was deconstructed and donated as building materials. Reclaimed / repurposed materials include Cream City brick from the Schlitz Brewhouse in Milwaukee, wind-felled pine glu-lams and decking, pickle barrel cypress siding, maple flooring and cedar lined closets.
Photo: Daniel Kabara Photography