A Modern House Ideas Competition
Denver Architectural League | Winter 2011
Collaborators: Jenna Michieli
The objective of the ideas competition is to create a design dialogue through an exhibition of the submittals in the context of the northeast Denver community occupying the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. The abandoned runway site lies adjacent to and immediately north of the former airport control tower. This design competition invites exploration of alternatives to production detached housing, with a program that includes family, vehicles and possessions.
The client is a family of four with 2 recent grads returning home while they search for a job. They have decided that they can afford to penalize the planet with no more than 1,500 square feet of enclosed conditioned space. The family enjoys living outside, they are environmentally conscious and they appreciate modern architecture, modern furniture and a modern lifestyle. In fact, certain family members occasionally partake in nude sunbathing.
The modern house should be just that, a house; it should engage the basic principles of shelter: physiological and emotional. This is counter to what the object of house has become; a glorified storage unit and a beige statement of self. A house has to relearn the functions of self-reliance and personal identity both of which have been muted during the past decades. In order to address these functions the current neglect of relationship to context needs to be annulled. A blank site on a blank field leaves little context to address, so the relationship is to be found at the lines were definable elements meet. For this site, this line, the seam lays in its contrast of earth and sky by simply being able to see one without being reminded of the other.
This contrast in context runs parallel the relationships of the users the house. They are grouped individuals who are joined at a seam of flux. Each space serves a pure function, and while its own it defines the edge of enclosure of the next. This edge provides the opportunity for transition like a horizon does for earth and sky.
The building is to be a mediator between the landscape and
the users. The landscape is a
challenge to the traditional backyard.
We feel that a backyard inhibits interaction and creates an elusiveness
from community. We propose instead
creating a porch space for outside living. This landscape is then place on the side of the house and
buried to create a neighborly buffer but also allow for interaction to the
outside from the entire length of the house. The house itself is loose metaphor of modern living in that
it lead us to the expression in the form of the relationships service vs.
served. In life there are
designated times that are spend serving allowing us to enjoy what has been
earned. Each segment of the house
is placed within a rhythm to create periods of rest that are to be in stark
contrast to their counter parts of laborious efforts. This creates a modern house of rooms in opposition to
the trite expression of ‘open floor plan’ and re-examines the traditional role
This house is the overlap of landscape and built form. Where this overlap occurs is the bases of interaction and hearth. By connecting to the landscape through physical interaction or visual connection, they are given a hierarchy in terms of volume and light. The quality of light is curated in each space to give the rooms values for there designated interaction; privacy, gathering, and circulation (both vertical and horizontal). All of these qualities are produced through a response to environmental issues. The building is simply oriented and given apertures in response to solar movements, while the skin employs enduring, yet, renewable materials and advanced envelope techniques.