Business in the front and party in the back this house would seem at first, with the traditional nested gables of the street facade unfolding into a dramatically composed butterfly roof in the rear. The reality is quite the opposite: with an open plan conducive to entertaining, the kitchen, living, and dining areas are situated under the sculptural vault of the front gable while the architect’s home studio is located at the back of the house. The house seems compact from the front but provides the space for modern living and working within its 2700 square feet, two-story design.
The geometry of the neighborhood’s vernacular cottages is explored and abstracted in the front façade. The horizontal lines of the porch roof and masonry planter boxes, generous glazing, and the piercing vertical of the chimney pipe generate a modern aesthetic overlaid upon the more traditional gabled form indicative of the neighborhood. The side elevation reveals a narrow shotgun-like approach to the home, a different reinterpretation of Southern cottages, which also provides for natural passive ventilation. The exploration is carried further through the creative incorporation of native and traditional materials such as Tennessee fieldstone and white clapboard siding. Reclaimed heart pine floors and salvaged wood from an old shed on the lot further connect the building to local site and culture.
As the first residence in Athens, GA certified under the LEED for Homes program, the project exemplifies a strong commitment to sustainability in both the use of traditional passive climate strategies as well as the incorporation of many new technologies such as solar hot water heating; low-flow fixtures; Energy Star appliances, lights, and windows; spray-in insulation; and a rainwater catchment system using a 1100 gallon cistern. By fully exploring both old and new strategies in the home’s design and performance, the project evokes a strong sense of place, rooted in the tradition of the region and the immediate neighborhood, but also exemplifying modern innovation as it embraces contemporary ideas and allows the design and the neighborhood to evolve into the future.