New Houses In Older Neighborhoods

By Dan Gregory, Originally Published in Eye On Design

A new and neighborly "urban farmhouse" for an established neighborhood in Orlando.

While at the International Builder Show in Orlando I toured two new demonstration homes that were built in established neighborhoods. One, designed by architect Ed Binkley for Southern Traditions Development as Green Builder Media’s Vision House, sits on a long narrow lot not far from downtown. I think it expressed a green sensibility very well in the use of eco-friendly materials like fiber cement siding and ICF construction (insulating concrete forms using Arxx blocks, example below: reinforcing bars are added, then concrete). However, energy-efficient materials alone do not make a house green. The key for me is how this design thoughtfully maximizes the tight infill site (house photo above by Andy Frame courtesy Green Builder magazine) and deftly incorporates outdoor space. It does an excellent job. With its generous double decker front porch facing the street and the semi-detached rear garage/studio shaping a small courtyard, it allows  the house to live larger than it is.

The welcoming and usable front stoop, simple gable profile, and backyard garage are all elements found in New Urbanist communities like Seaside, Florida or I’on, South Carolina — as well as the late 19th and early 20th century neighborhoods that New Urbanists emulate. The innovative twist here is the lanai connecting house and garage:  it’s a private summer living room and barbecue center. The roof deck is accessible from the upstairs master suite.  The lanai opens to the family room beside the handsome island kitchen (Andy Frame photo, below). Ed Binkley calls his design an "urban farmhouse," and that seems an apt description. Various details play up the rustic theme, such as railings fabricated from hog wire fencing (I also like the bright, well-situated and multi-functional laundry/study just off the stairway) and a trough sink for the kids’ bathroom (Interior design by Patricia Gaylor).

August 19, 2013