Our clients are young successful entrepreneurs who decided to build their dream home just north of the city. They purchased the last available estate lot from a developer. This lot came with many challenges both from the physical topography, conservation, forestry, and setback requirements. It had it all, which is why it was the last available lot.
Where many would see these challenges and restrictions to this parcel of land as restrictive, we see it as advantageous to our design. Often times the challenges are advantages will steer your creative solutions and result in a building composition that is highly responsive, reactive and integrates to the site. We look at these hurdles as creative opportunities to make something unique solutions that are adapted to the site. FrankFranco Architects took steps to evaluate all the restrictions of the land and used them and impetus to really innovate resulting in unique and purposeful modern custom home.
Zoning & Structure
The zoning setbacks of the lot, along with the top of slope setback requirements for conservation reduced the buildable area of the potential home significantly (about 50%). In original design, we wanted to have minimal impact on the site, so we actually bridged the home, to cantilever it over the existing topography. This included an interior courtyard that was framed by the floating mass anchored to podiums at the west and east ends of the structure. This allowed for the existing site to flow through the building’s form.
The elongated mass of the home running east to west allowed for privacy to be achieved by planning the schematic design of the home with circulation paths to the south and living spaces to the north. This allowed for minimal penetrations on the south elevation while directing all living spaces towards the forest, to the north, and the courtyard framed by the home.
Once presented to the client, their feedback was to shield the lower level, removing the untouched topography of a natural courtyard for a more literal interpretation. The massing was used on the lower level to create additional interior square footage while framing a more conventional, interpretation of a courtyard. This is visible on the approach of the site and aids in situating pathways for vehicle approach to their respective garages as well as a makeshift car port for guest parking.
Because of the site slope, we knew we had to bring occupants of the home directly upstairs to manage the grading height. The lower level is closer to the level of the street dictating interior programming to serve the garages, mechanical spaces, storage, gym and mudroom. Upstairs capitalizes on the surrounding forest views and accounts for everyday private and public spaces.
Floor Plans & Placement
The overall floor plan of the home takes on a l-shape form w/ the elongated portion running east to west housed the sleeping quarters. All rooms are accessed by the south corridor with minimal glazing, while the rooms themselves, incorporate large windows facing north (views of the courtyard and subsequent tree line of the forested valley). The design of this programming ensured privacy from the street, views of the surrounding environment, and less intense natural light permeation into the bedrooms.
The kitchen placement was strategic centered in the house and bridges the building’s form north and south. This allowed for views into the courtyard and pool beyond. There are significant cantilevered elements that add to the drama of the building massing. Focusing further on the details we have the sunken courtyard; main gym and the most spectacular detail is the stone chimney that penetrates the glass skylight.
We found the various challenges and restrictions to this parcel of land as an inspiration to truly react to the site topography. It allowed for innovative creative solutions adapting and reactive to the site to integrate the design, not restrict it. It was a successful project, satisfying both the clients wish list as well as the design of the home and how it sits in the landscape, the details required careful considering and propose. A home that truly does have it all.