Archinect
Michael Gustavson, AIA, Registered Architect

Michael Gustavson, AIA, Registered Architect

Everywhere, USA

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Mark, Katie, Tyra, Cullen and Evelyn's New Home.

The most collaborative project I have worked on to date.  I wanted to see what would happen if the owners were involved completely in the design process.  Mark and Katie and I worked on the design of this house for several years, side by side, redesign after redesign, hundreds and hundreds of sheets of trace paper, until they finally were satisfied that they new what they wanted and were getting what they wanted.  Thoroughly primed in the design process they then hired a design-build company who used their knowledge and skills to refine the plans even more.  The result was this ranch/prairie-style, extremely energy-efficient design.  This home will probably be here in 300 years because it was designed to age well, and to take advantage of everything the site has to offer.  The most eco-friendly building after all is the building that nobody ever wants to tear down.

 
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Status: Built

 
The partition walls below the vaulted ceiling on the main level do not reach the ceiling. Thus you can see where the roof meets its load bearing walls all the way around the vaulted area of the house. You notice that you are under a roof because you can see the whole thing. A ceiling does nothing for you, but a roof protects you from the sun and the rain. There is something in our DNA that understands what a roof means, and it brings us comfort and understanding to see a roof over our head...
The partition walls below the vaulted ceiling on the main level do not reach the ceiling. Thus you can see where the roof meets its load bearing walls all the way around the vaulted area of the house. You notice that you are under a roof because you can see the whole thing. A ceiling does nothing for you, but a roof protects you from the sun and the rain. There is something in our DNA that understands what a roof means, and it brings us comfort and understanding to see a roof over our head. When have you ever noticed the roof of the building you were in, while you were in it? Only in the very special buildings. The churches, cathedrals, barns, and symbolic ancient shelters like yurts and tipis and igloos. It’s not just vaulting the ceiling. It’s vaulting the ceiling and seeing how the roof reaches the walls all the way around the inside of the building. That is what turns a ceiling into a roof, and a roof is a symbol and a comforting sign of shelter.
A gradual slope from one side of the site to the other could not be created because adding earth within the drip line (outer edge of the canopy) of the two huge trees to the east would have suffocated the trees roots. Thus the existing grade level was maintained and the slope difference in the site reconciled with the use of retaining walls at or beyond the drip line of the large trees.
A gradual slope from one side of the site to the other could not be created because adding earth within the drip line (outer edge of the canopy) of the two huge trees to the east would have suffocated the trees roots. Thus the existing grade level was maintained and the slope difference in the site reconciled with the use of retaining walls at or beyond the drip line of the large trees.
The house is two stories high and was brought out to the limits of the setback lines in order to get the most of the site’s view of the cross-country ski trails to the south. This could have made the house stick out on the corner and stand holding dominion over the landscape and the neighborhood. Instead the house fits into the neighborhood because it is sunk as far as possible into the ground (without window wells). It also uses low slung hipped roofs, large overhangs and horizontal bands...
The house is two stories high and was brought out to the limits of the setback lines in order to get the most of the site’s view of the cross-country ski trails to the south. This could have made the house stick out on the corner and stand holding dominion over the landscape and the neighborhood. Instead the house fits into the neighborhood because it is sunk as far as possible into the ground (without window wells). It also uses low slung hipped roofs, large overhangs and horizontal bands of material on the facade bringing it perceptually closer to the ground and more in the landscape than on the landscape.
Areas in a house with many windows facing the public can create a lack of privacy, but here the public areas with many windows are raised up above street level so there is no sense of lost privacy. It is easy to look out, and difficult to look in. When one looks from the street at night all that one sees is the interesting way in which the vaulted ceiling interacts with the non-ceiling-height partition walls.
Areas in a house with many windows facing the public can create a lack of privacy, but here the public areas with many windows are raised up above street level so there is no sense of lost privacy. It is easy to look out, and difficult to look in. When one looks from the street at night all that one sees is the interesting way in which the vaulted ceiling interacts with the non-ceiling-height partition walls.
Windows and rooms are organized to take advantage of views in as many places as they would be desired.
Windows and rooms are organized to take advantage of views in as many places as they would be desired.
The house defines the corner without dominating the landscape.
The house defines the corner without dominating the landscape.
Pulling the house as close to the street corner as setbacks would allow improved views to golf course ski trails and rear south west views. It also created a very usable backyard and patio area to the more private, sunny, and wind sheltered, south side of the house.
Pulling the house as close to the street corner as setbacks would allow improved views to golf course ski trails and rear south west views. It also created a very usable backyard and patio area to the more private, sunny, and wind sheltered, south side of the house.
The hot tub has yet to be installed, hence the makeshift railing.
The hot tub has yet to be installed, hence the makeshift railing.
retaining walls were built to control drainage around and away from the foundation of the house. These retaining walls were built from stones excavated from the site when the foundation was being dug. Lucky find!
retaining walls were built to control drainage around and away from the foundation of the house. These retaining walls were built from stones excavated from the site when the foundation was being dug. Lucky find!
Multiple, triple-glazed, highly insulated windows to the south collect the sun's heat in the winter and are completely shaded by the large overhangs on hot summer days.
Multiple, triple-glazed, highly insulated windows to the south collect the sun's heat in the winter and are completely shaded by the large overhangs on hot summer days.

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