There has been a trend toward empty nesters and retirees moving from the suburbs back to the urban amenities and proximities the suburbs do not offer. This house is on a north facing corner lot in a historic neighborhood a short walk from a grocery store, grade school, a community center and the cultural vibrancy of downtown Lawrence, Kansas.
It is a modern, sustainable two-bedroom house that features an air tight, highly insulated thermal envelope, efficient light fixtures and appliances as well as a high performance mechanical system. These design characteristics in combination with a photovoltaic array on the roof and the proper orientation to take advantage of the sun and wind assure the owner little or no energy costs over a calendar year.
This all was accomplished while meeting the design requirement to build within the environs of a listed historic property nearby.
The house occupies a lot and a half and the extra space offered the opportunity to generously engage the site. Three gable forms create a south facing courtyard that is the focal point of the design as nearly every room opens to it through full height windows. The courtyard is open to the sun but protected from the north winds and maximizes its use throughout the year. It also includes a rain garden that collects the storm runoff to support the growth of native plants and to allow the water to absorb into the subsurface of the site.
The north gable holds the living room and the two bedrooms, it opens to the courtyard and the concrete floors hold the heat from the sun that penetrates the space through the large windows that open to the courtyard. The western gable is adjacent to the alley and holds the one car garage and storage. Between it and the north gable is a concrete tornado shelter. The eastern gable houses the kitchen and dining and is connected to the north gable by an entry foyer.
The unassuming forms, the standing seam roof, the half round gutters and the minimal trim detailing at the openings are all done to emphasize the visually rich texture of the horizontally run cedar which was reclaimed from railroad bridge trestles that have been dismantled by the logging industry. Large panels with horizontally run boards that match the spacing of the rainscreen run on horizontal tracks. When closed, or partially closed, they filter out heat gain from the sun while still allowing daylight to penetrate through the spaces between the boards. They also offer varying degrees of privacy depending on how they are used.
The University of Kansas Department of Architecture invites applications for Studio 804, a comprehensive one-year, fully hands-on design-build experience for students who are at an advanced stage in their studies and committed to the continued research and development of affordable, sustainable and inventive building solutions. Students enrolled in Studio 804 work full time to design and build a new building every year. The widely-published program, under the direction of Distinguished Professor Dan Rockhill, has produced ten LEED Platinum buildings, three of which are Passive House-certified. To learn more, visit studio804.com and architecture. ku.edu/studio804. The university accepts transfers, 4+2 grads, B.Arch grads, M.Arch grads, or professionals — anyone who wants to be a better architect by having had the experience of designing and constructing a sophisticated building in its entirety from the ground up.