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Divide and Conquer: 7 Modern Dogtrot Houses

Andrew Davis Andrew Davis

The Dogtrot House typology is a vernacular design originating in rural Appalachia and commonly built in the south of the United States. Traditionally, the design is highly utilitarian, splitting the program of the house between private and public living spaces with a breezeway or “dogtrot.” Though traditional dogtrot houses are modest in both scale and material composition, architects today have pushed the typology forward, adapting to contemporary residential uses.

The decision to use a dogtrot-style arrangement is both aesthetic and practical. By separating the program into smaller, more enclosed volumes one can reduce the need for excessive heating and cooling loads in the winter and summer. A dogtrot is also meant to be reactive to its surroundings by catching breezes in the intermediate zone of the house to help keep the house ventilated.

This diverse set of iterations of the dogtrot style show how the typology is adaptable to various locales. Some houses are sited near the beach, others in wooded areas; however, all of the structures use the same inherent principals in their design. Ranging from faithfully constructed to erring on the verge of a new style altogether, precedence for this style are certainly informing residential architecture today.

Further Lane House by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, Amagansett, N.Y.

Though TWBT Architects are perhaps more well-known for their institutional work, this house on Long Island shows the range of their craft. This use of the dogtrot is as sculptural as it is phenomenological, pulling occupants into a meditative, interstitial space at the center of the house.

Hog Pen Creek Residenceby LAKE|FLATO ARCHITECTS, Austin, Texas

This residence is a celebration of the the owner’s connection to the out of doors. Lake|Flato has created multiple conditions of interior-exterior fluidity and movement that is enhanced by the discrete organization of the program.

Sagaponack House by Bates Masi + Architects, Sagaponack, N.Y.

Bates Masi is a firm with one eye on the tradition of vernacular building and a sharp view forward toward progressive residential design. Their design for this house in Sagaponack is characterized by careful placement of voids entirely cut through the structure, allowing the home to function as a filter of dynamic experiences.

36SML Beach House by Levenbetts, Amagansett, N.Y.

This house challenges the formal precept of a dogtrot organized as a pinwheel with three wings. At the center, a void of space allows for views into the second story and creates access to all sides of the house.

Bay House by Roger Ferris + Partners, Noyack, N.Y.

At the crux of sustainability and the dogtrot typology, this house cleverly compartmentalizes the building volume to reduce overuse of the building systems.

Bay House by Leroy Street Studio, Westhampton Beach, N.Y.

Built on a challenging wetlands site, this house creates an occupied void between the intersection of two askew volumes. Though perceived as planar from the front, just on the other side of the dogtrot the building opens up to the water beyond.

Dogtrot at Stony Point by Hays+Ewing Design Studio, Richmond, Va.

This house is most nearly analogous to a traditional dogtrot structure and is also most proximal in geographic location. Using deep overhangs and low building form, this design represents the traditional spirit of the style.