Posts Tagged ‘small architecture projects’


In the Interest of Moderation

October 10, 2012

1500 Square Foot House Plan, copyright © 2012 Gaddis Architect

Here, in the interest of moderation, boring though it may be, is a carefully thought out plan of a little house that meets some very big needs.  If you click on the plan, it will enlarge so you can follow the points below.

  • The main entry is into a foyer and circulation area, allowing for access to additional floors, if they are used, without the necessity of passing through the private part of the house, and allowing a home business or multifamily living arrangement.
  • The living and dining areas are exposed to the outdoors on threes sides giving ample opportunity for light, additional entries & a fireplace.
  • The galley style kitchen, including washer/dryer combination adjacent to the hallway, pantry and  counter with seating,  is open to the main living  and dining space.
  • There are two toilet rooms, one of them handicapped compliant, and a large handicapped accessible wet room with both tub and shower which is intended for use by all residents, pets included.
  • There is a single wet wall serving both kitchen and bathrooms which is a cost effective way to install plumbing.
  • The need for an office, additional sleeping space for company and part time residents, and extra storage is address by using the transition space off of the hallways on the way to the bedrooms.
  • There are two good sized bedrooms, on the same floor as the bathrooms, important for aging or handicapped residents.  Each bedroom has a good sized closet and is exposed to the outdoors on two sides for light and air circulation.

Design for the Sake of Design?

October 4, 2012

Tiny Kitchen with Platform Bed Above

I have noticed that whenever gurus of sustainability want to justify cramming 2000 square foot of living space into 100 square feet of actual space they call on Bucky Fuller.  As if such a paragon of modernity, committed as he was to “doing more with less,”  was prophetic when he said,  “Our beds are empty two-thirds of the time.  Our living rooms are empty seven-eighths of the time.  Our office buildings are empty one-half of the time.  It’s time we gave this some thought.”  Well, I have;  and lest it appear I take important issues too lightly, I even plead guilty to occasionally quoting the master. For now, though, I say so what!

Do we need our bedrooms, living rooms and offices less for not using them 100% of the time?  Does simultaneous occupancy never occur?  Can old and young alike, happily crawl up a ladder onto a platform bed mounted above a tiny kitchen that only works for short people?  Do we really want to fold up the bed to get to the desk, to live in camper?  Of course not.  The whole issue may have more to do with design for the sake of design than it does with meeting the housing needs of real people?  After all, moderation is boring, and the challenge of designing and living in a tiny house is made so much more fun because it serves as a pointed criticism of the monster mansion.


Architecture, like possession, is equal to nine tenths of the law.

August 20, 2012

Earth Awards Competion Entry, House made from recycled shipping pallets by I-Beam Architecture & Design

The Earth Awards is a competition aiming to inspire designers of every ilk to work out market based solutions to the worlds environmental problems.  It brings to mind the 2007 documentary “Penny Revolution” which follows lenders making micro loans to help those living in poverty start business.  The goals are noble and there have been some pretty amazing entries. The 2010 Grand Prize Winner was a manufactured photosynthetic foam that does not rely on the earths resources for production and results in high carbon capture and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.  There are different categories.  The “Pallet House” project here was a “Built Environment” entry made from ubiquitous and almost free recycled shipping pallets.  It can be put together with hand tools and there are kit type instructions to boot.  If you were stuck in a transient camp waiting for a new home in distant lands, would you rather live in the little designer house or a box?  At the risk of being cynical, I would not be surprised if there were many preferring the box.

Home made house near Juarez, Mexico

Reality is a complex thing, and in my experience most people prefer their own to a romanticized vision drummed up by distant luminaries. Offered a chance to buy the little designer house, a potential resident is likely to check out how it is assembled and then build his own new improved version from found and free materials.  Proud, indeed,  is the owner of a real “Pallet House” like the one you see.  In this case architecture, like possession, is equal to nine tenths of the law.

Backyard Business

August 7, 2012

Wood Worker’s Shop

Way back when I was starting I wrote about the tendency of owners of homes needing rejuvenation  to use design ideas pinched from suburban track houses.  A particular target for this type of application is the phony pediment, as if by its addition a tired old house can be made to fit in with the local aesthetic.   If asked,  an architect might look for more authentic inspiration, which appears to have happened in this backyard  wood worker’s shop.  The pediment marks the double (not garage) doors and ignites curiosity.  A nice way to attract positive attention to home hobby/small business.


Never too small to be great.

July 23, 2012

Bunk Bed Room

With a little careful planning an architect can squeeze one of these bunk bed rooms into a really tight space.  The payoff for anyone having a lot of company, especially kids, is big.  With some extra planning it can be “Mruphied” up to convert into storage space when not in use, or it can go the other way and actually be retrofitted into an already existing closet.  This is especially practical when the closet is adjacent to hallway.  However one chooses to do it, this is one of those “never to small to be great” type of projects that are a whole lot of fun.

Find more bunk bed rooms here.


Thermally Treated and Acetylated Lumber and other things architects can’t live without.

July 12, 2012

Cable Rail

I have found that many architects love lists.  I think it comes from all the years most of us have spent cranking out construction documents, which could be the mother load of all lists.  In any case, AIA  recently publish in “Residential Architect”  this very astute list of essential building products.  If you are building or remodeling a house there is a good chance that at least a few of these are going to show up in your project, and if they don’t you may want to look into why not.  My personal favorites are spray foam insulation and high performance windows.  The complete article, here, is short and worth a read for anyone thinking about building.

Thermally Treated and Acetylated Lumber
Cable Rail
Light Quartz Based Surfacing
High Performance Air Conditioning
Fiber Cement Siding
Engineered Structural Products
Low VOC Paint
Spray Foam Insulation
PolyCarbonate/Resin Panels
Energy Efficient Appliances
Tankless Water Heaters
Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures
Energy Efficient Lighting
High-Performance Windows
Radiant Heated Floors

Not “Belmont Mansion” but definitely somone’s castle.

May 25, 2012

After the last post – and considering that this blog is about real people – I thought that it might be a good time for a dose of reality.  This project is now under way in my office;  not exactly the Belmont Mansion, but definitely someone’s castle.  The problem started when painters, hired to do the entire house, neglected the front porch saying the structure was unsafe and not worth painting.  The home owner, being far away, not wanting to spend a fortune, and not knowing whether to repair, or replace came to me for help.

Many thanks to Gilberto Moldanado, a master at fixing old houses on a budget. There will be updates as the project goes forward, in the meantime, if you are really that interested you can take at the look at the construction drawings here:  Porch