House for a Teacher

Project Description

This studio investigates the vehicle of the free-standing individual dwelling as instrument to repopulate the devastated neighborhoods of Chicago by providing houses for teachers to live in the same neighborhoods in which they teach. Students were asked to take an initial idea for a house (there was no analysis) and develop it over the course of the studio from the perspective of constructability – ‘how do you build it?’, through typical vehicles of plan/section/elev/model, but also through structural framing models and details.

The given site is a typical Chicago lot – 25’ by 125’ (with 2.5’ side yard setbacks) facing west. The proposed 1500 SF house takes advantage of the prototypical lot by conceptually making a longitudinal ‘cut’ down the length of the site, in order to maximize light without sacrificing privacy. The program of the house is organized along this ‘light spine’, dividing the house into two asymmetrical halves:
1. a 4-foot wide ‘solid’, narrow bar (finished in wood) packed with functional necessities, such as kitchen, bathrooms, storage, services (laundry, water heater, fireplace, and furnace)
2.  a 16-foot wide ‘open’ side comprised of rooms for living.
The 4-foot light spine is used for circulation, but can also be incorporated into the ‘living’ space, mediating the two sides of the house and allowing program to ‘cross-over’.

Based on a four foot module the house’s steel structure allows for a large degree of flexibility and speed in construction. It can be tailored to serve a single family, include a rental unit above the garage, or be used as an alternative shared live/work space for multiple independent teachers. The back unit would be built first allowing a family to raise the funds/build the front 1500 SF house over time. The back unit could then be rented out, used as a ‘granny-flat’, or later connected to the main house by an infill wood ‘bridge’, containing work space. This degree of flexibility makes the apartment more financially attractive for its potential residents.
Finish materials include exposed steel columns, perforated corrugated metal, and oak. The use of exterior wood (although typically not permitted due to fire code) is predicated on the idea that the metal envelope would wrap the wood, shielding neighboring house from fire spread. This also creates an intermediary inside/outside condition at the covered entries.