Our project is a single family home on a suburban site with wonderful views of natural landscape. Our clients, a computer scientist and physicist, valued durability, practicality, and desired a sun-filled home to age-in-place that would accommodate a wheelchair-bound relative.
The front of the house was designed to reflect the intensely private nature of our clients, obscuring views into the interior and views out to the large neighboring homes. This helps focus the interior experience on the natural landscape--one quickly forgets the suburban context. The interior is organized along a glass corridor spine with alternating views of garden and forest. Each room is open on two or more sides allowing for direct sun throughout the day as well as cross ventilation. This corridor begins with a stone entry, a Japanese "Genkan" transition: no shoes are allowed beyond it. This spine terminates in a home office which appears detached - it is entered across a wood interior deck covered by a glass roof - as if one were walking outside to reach this room. Natural light also separates garage from house, acting as another experiential threshold.
The physicist, a member of a brass quintet, requested a space for group rehearsals, we designed the "Music Room" (living room) as the heart of the home. Designed in consultation with an acoustician, this room has angled walls and perforated acoustic material lines angled bookshelves. Ceiling hung geometric panels are visually dynamic and help provide excellent acoustics.
Our client: "The house is a work of art".
The house lays out in an east-west orientation to maximize passive solar heat gain and cross-ventilation opportunities, this also allowed for multiple views of surrounding landscape from every room.
We kept a large portion of of the site natural forest. The landscape was designed using sustainable practices as one of the goals. Early in the design development phase the rear of the property that slopes gently to a creek was cleared of invasive species of trees and shrubs. We then began a wetland restoration along the creek edge and prairie restoration on the upland slope along with the planting of a mixture of oaks, maples and under-story trees native to Illinois. Views from the office, dinning room, and music room (living room) capture the essence of its beauty.
The siting of the house takes advantage of an existing grove of Black locust trees on the west and an existing hedge row on the south to create shade on summer afternoons yet allowing sun into the house on cold winter days. Foundation plantings such as junipers, grasses and sedums were selected for their drought tolerance. All plant beds are mulched with native leaf mulch. Irrigation was only provided for the lawn spaces close to the house. Terraces and walkways are paved with bluestone set with wide crushed stone gaps to allow for water penetration.
-Reclaimed Chicago Common brick
-Reclaimed natural tree bark siding from waste of logging industry is rot and insect resistant with a life span of approximately 80 years. This bark has Cradle to Cradle (C2C) platinum certification.
-Fiber-cement trim and siding
-Low-E argon filled, thermally broken sliders and windows
-Large roof/eave overhangs to control solar heat gain
-Skylights for natural daylighting
-7-day programmable thermostats
-No VOC paint
-Natural wood flooring
-Solar hot water heat 80 GAL storage tank
-Photovoltaic panels 6 KW
-Storm water retention tank
-Closed cell spray foam insulation
-Whole-house natural ventilation system
The envelope is engineered to exceed the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code. The home was only recently completed, actual gas and electric use from utility bills could be collected to compare to the median use for this type of property. The percentage better than the median would provide the energy star score.
Closed cell foam spray foam insulation.
Air tight envelope.
80 gallon solar hot water system, for domestic hot water and to augment space heating.
6KW photovoltaic solar array on the roof top with option to expand to 10KW.
5500 cfm whole-house natural ventilation system.
Not applicable: It is a single family residence in a far-western suburb. There are 3 parking spaces. Walk Score: 17
3050 gallon underground storm water storage retention tank to delay release of run off from downspouts and landscape.
No VOC paint.
We relied on reclaimed and natural materials such as natural stone and wood flooring, and reclaimed Chicago Common brick and natural bark were used both for exterior and some interior elevations.
Since the client hosts her 5-member brass ensemble for rehearsals, we worked with an acoustician to minimize noise levels in ground floor common spaces as well as bedrooms.
Ross Architecture, Inc.