Framework for Living
The site for the 1500 sq. ft. Living Framework House is programmed to be a highly efficient, small area full-time dwelling for a couple with the flexibility to comfortably house their two grown children on vacations. Located at the end of a “T” intersection, traffic headlights and noise directed at the site are alleviated by siting the house up one half level from the street frontage. To ground the building back to its surroundings, we established an indoor/outdoor connection in two ways: the use of the living green volume that runs the full height of the house, and with exterior rooms on each level. The living green volume is one of two organizing elements, or framework, with which the program of the home is in constant interaction. The living wall is a major design element for providing evaporative cooling in the summer months. Growing plants provide seasonal shade and reconnect the owners back to the natural environment. Several viewing decks provide views to the city and mountains, as well as east to the neighborhood and the plains. The main living level walls open to a deck, allowing the owners to live seamlessly indoors and out. On each floor, the stairs visually open onto the green wall creating a physical and psychological connection with nature as the inhabitants move throughout their home. By building on a narrow footprint, much of the 3300 sq. ft. building lot remains landscape, allowing ground filtration of the precipitation to replenish the water table instead of clog up the storm sewer, and to maximize the usable outdoor space for gatherings. The house is within walking distance of many local shops and restaurants to serve the needs of the owners, at the same time reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled. This neighborhood development sits on a former runway for the Stapleton Municipal Airport. Narrow and tall, the house also holds dialogue with the form of the original Stapleton flight control tower which can be viewed from the home’s decks. As a way of tying the home into the historical fabric of the area, simple gestures can be found in the building’s appearance. One major cue is at the alley entrance to the home which incorporates the adaptive reuse of aluminum sheeting from previous aircraft bodies. The narrow floor plate of the house allows winter sun penetration through the entire space, allowing the radiant floors to serve as thermal mass, and providing naturally daylight in the home year-round. During the summer months, the large green living wall cooperates with the louvers and roof overhangs to provide ample shading and cool the interior microclimate. Portions of the faceted glass facade are made up of photovoltaic glass and louver systems to seasonally control solar energy gain. The underground parking volume serves to collect cool air and utilize a stack effect up through the north stairwell when a flush is desirable. The building orientation also maximizes natural cross ventilation. The roof is slanted on two axes to direct rainwater to the green wall, where it filters down to a capture basin in the underground garage. The water is then recirculated to irrigate the landscape and green wall. The catchment basin is sized to release any remaining water to the city’s waste water treatment system in the (Colorado state law) required 24 hour cycle. All of the greywater used in the home is treated and cycled through the watering system for the green wall and the landscape. This project was completed as an entry for the Modern House Ideas Competition by the Denver Architecture League and sponsored by AIA Colorado, Modern In Denver Magazine, and Room & Board. This design won the Honor Award. It also placed Third in the Colorado Biz Magazine’s Colorado Sustainable Design Awards (CSDA) for Residential Design in 2011.