The two-bar house hugs the front and side property lines of the deep lot, providing private, usable space in the side and rear yards. Photo: Joe Fletcher
The landscape often is an afterthought, fleshed out with leftover funds. But when land and house have equal bulling, budget decisions can shift in ways that result in something far more satisfying. This Menlo Park, Calif., home's sunlit interiors live larger because they're planned and detailed around the outdoors.
"The clients had very strong sustainability objectives, including a smaller building footprint," says Jonathan Feldman, principal of Feldman Architecture. "They wanted to spend what little resources they had on making small, nice spaces and lots of outdoor connections."
The house consists of two stacked perpendicular rectangles, an arrangement that opens both volumes to more light than the typical box. Feldman's design process illustrates how to achieve the alfresco fluidity that clients covet in almost any climate.Liminal Spaces
Feldman creates seamless transitions by thinking about the site and floor plans at the same time. Siting is key: The house hugs the front and side of the narrow, deep lot, which allows for contiguous outdoor spaces along the side and rear yards. The open first floor is for living, dining, and cooking, with bedrooms along the cross axis above. Beneath the upper-level cantilever is a glassy family room that opens to the front and back yards.
"The family room is clearly inside, but it feels like a garden room," he says. "We are really just designing rooms. Some have only a roof or a floor, and others are enclosed and heated." Continuous decking outside the first floor living spaces provides a patio on the south and a slender porch on the east, a place to sit under the deep roof overhang and interact with the yard...Glazed Over
Feldman spends a lot of time choosing the right glass doors. "Are they trying to separate or connect, compress or expand space?" he asks. While he usually oprefers either accordion or lift-slide doors, both are used here...Agricultured
The clients were content with using simple interior finishes throughout the the home so they could splurge on the glass walls and a green roof outside the master suite. which is also visible from the stairwell. The roof's wood framing incorporates a single piece of steel to support the additional weight, which helped minimize the cost and eliminated the need for headers over the windows...
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Jonathan Feldman is the architect of Plan 517-1
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