Thursday, March 13, 2014

Modern Farm Series

Edging closer to my seventh year living in the Longhouse, I've now begun my own design practice within these four walls. It's inspired broader thoughts about how to expand the singular form of the Longhouse. There are typically two approaches architects take when adding to existing structures. One is to treat the addition as separate and distinct, the other is to integrate it in an additive way. My preference tends toward the first. It appeals to my design sensibilities as it's just a simpler treatment.

30X40 Design Workshop : Farm Series
Enter the Modern Farm Series by my (relatively new) studio, 30X40 Design Workshop. This series of modern home plans draws inspiration from the classic farmstead. Linked outbuildings were common in farms which were added to over time as the needs of the farm changed. Main houses were connected to barns with structures termed ‘little houses’ and ‘back houses’. The buildings were each carefully positioned in the landscape and near each other so as to shelter against the local prevailing winds, to collect sunlight, and temper the climate surrounding their everyday chores.

I'm still gravitating toward long, thin building volumes as they maximize the amount of light available to the living spaces and I just prefer the way they look proportionally. However, the morphology of the plan has changed a bit now it's more focused on a pod concept each of which contains a single function - living, sleeping and specialty pods. The pods are separated physically, but linked together with a flat roofed volume containing service spaces (hallway, bath, closets + storage). By separating into pods, the plans can create private retreats within a small plan footprint. They're also free to adapt to different site conditions, shifting topography, solar orientation, etc. I've developed a few basic layouts and continue to push this further each week.

I've posted an introductory video on my studio's website...please stay tuned as I'll be releasing the plans throughout the Spring of 2014.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Longhouse DIY Project

Ever eager to improve life in the Longhouse, I've posted a quick tutorial on a simple, modern, floating steel notice bar on 30X40 Design Workshop's Blog. Once you have the materials pulled together, it should only take a few minutes to install this.
Follow along on the blog where I list the materials and steps in more detail.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Introducing...30X40 Design Workshop

I've looked forward to opening my own studio focusing on simple, modern, residential design for as long as I can remember. Building on the ideas explored developing the Longhouse I've been hard at work on some compelling small house designs. They're simple + they're long, but they're efficient and proof that good design can be affordable.  These aren't the designs of the massive online plan warehouses, the 'Carleton' or the 'Windsor'.  They're crafted by an architect with experience designing high-end custom homes.  These plans pack big ideas into small spaces - they're simple + direct but they exude custom and + thoughtful.

If you like what you've read on the Longhouse blog, I think you'll find 30X40 Design Workshop even more engaging.  30X40 is my studio where I work on these humble, considered design projects of all scales. It's also a shop where I sell my simple home designs, offer advice, product + material reviews and a place to get a glimpse at some of my other more recent work.

Why 30X40? Check out this post on my new blog that describes the thinking behind it.

As I mentioned I'm offering floor plan sets for sale, the first of which is based on the three bedroom Longhouse (3.0), but there are others in development, being released every week.  The original plan for the Longhouse here on Mount Desert Island, Maine remains a wonderfully efficient house to live in. But, I'd be a fool if I didn't learn from my time actually living here and improve upon the things that our family has found to be somewhat less than perfect.

Longhouse 3.0 - Aerial View (without roof)

What's new and improved?

  1. Closets.  If you've read through any of my laments in the original posts you'll know we didn't implement an out-of-sight storage plan properly. The new plans address this, but also allow you to phase the storage plan in over time.  We've provided multiple places in the plans to incorporate storage cabinetry or leave it out if the budget suggests otherwise.  Personally, I'd use every inch of it, especially in a small floor plan, storage is a key component to organized living.
  2. Bedroom size.  When we first designed the Longhouse we kept a mindful watch on every square foot we added.  While it made sense at the time, it was short-sighted.  A couple of extra feet in the end bedrooms would've allowed for extra play room as well as closets (see #1) and made them more versatile over time.  But, we learned and the bedrooms are larger and filled with storage.
  3. Basement / Attic access.  This was something that was taking space in a location it didn't need to be. Shifting it to the new location provided for additional transition space between the living area and master suite.
  4. Floor framing. We learned that the savings on dimensional lumber (2x8s) for floor framing would've been more wisely spent on bones that don't shrink over time.  As dimensional lumber dries the first floor system settles.  I knew this going in, but really thought it wouldn't be an issue and while it's not a structural issue, creaking floor boards in certain parts of the house are an ongoing reminder of my decision to save a few dollars.  The new Longhouse incorporates engineered floor framing members as a starting point.
  5. Materials.  Architects can be fickle.  Liking one material this week and another next.  So, had I it to do all over again, I'd probably switch up the exterior Hardieplank for shingles or Hardipanel, but that's not because I don't love the product.  It's because I like different things every week.  The Hardiplank looks new even five years on - hard to beat that for low maintenance and low life-cycle cost.
As always, I'd love to hear from you, to know what you think of the new and improved plan or to talk about a design conundrum you're having, drop by the 30X40 site and get in touch.  And, if you're ever near Acadia National Park, the Longhouse always has a pot of coffee on feel free to drop by.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A House We Love...

We're really honored to be one of twenty finalists in Dwell Magazine's Houses We Love competition. If you're visiting for the first time, this post is really just a collection of completed images...the step-by-step instruction manual you'll find by reading the archives to the right...

We'd love your vote in the competition if it's a house you love (or even like a bit), it's a home that's outwardly regionalist at first glance, but thoroughly modern upon careful study...thanks for reading...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

‘Ornament & Crime’

The essay by the Austrian architect Adolf Loos ‘Ornament & Crime’ written in 1908, argues that all ornament is criminal in nature. Loos, “holds the Papuan up as an example of man who has not evolved to the moral and civilized circumstances of modern man, and who will therefore kill and consume his enemies without committing a crime. Had a modern — meaning a Western man — done the same thing, he would either be considered a criminal or a degenerate. By the same token, the Papuan may tattoo his skin, his boat, his oar or anything he may lay his hands on ... He is no criminal. But a modern man who tattos himself is either a criminal or a degenerate. Tattooed men who are not imprisoned are either latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats. If a tattooed man dies free, this is because he has died prematurely, before committing his murder.”( ‘Adolf Loos: The New Vision’: Joseph Rykwert) Ornamentation, he contends in modern society is without merit. It forces the laborer to perform work that performs no function, other than signatory (say, a crown moulding signifying the top of a wall). Loos professes that it’s a waste of material, effort and a needless expense. Ornament freezes a building in time, Art Nouveau, in Loos’ time…perhaps pluralism or minimalism in our time.

No trim, no ornament, no crime.

Stonco 150L, with 4A backplate

Does our house look dated already by virtue of the lack of ornamentation? There’s validity in the argument that economy has driven many of our decisions, including those to eliminate ornament…but I wouldn’t have chose ogee moulding even if I had an extra five grand sitting in my pocket. I question some of Loos’ arguments and the social conditions he supports them with, but at heart I have to say I agree with his thesis. Loos worked hard to allow each material to be expressive of its inherent qualities, the only object on my walls (until I can afford artwork…is that ornamentation?) are my $11 Stonco exterior grade lampholders…a modern torch of sorts. Oh yeah…there’s the Enje roller blinds (IKEA, 39”x98”, $29.99)…which I considered stitching colored thread horizontally to add some color to the room…ornament, tsk tsk.

It’s no wonder my kids are pining for the outdoors, their required reading lists now require German translation.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Influenza A/Brisbane H3N2...

has disrupted my life for a good 2 1/2 weeks....but I see traffic has really picked up around here, thank you for the nods on the design blogs mocoloco, materialicious, and others thank you-thank you!

We've been settling in to our new home for close to four months now and of course the punchlist is longer than it was on move-in day last November. I've been busy checking off things inside as the snow outside continues to pile up. One of those tasks was a radon test. I figured we would be borderline given that we've built on solid granite ledge, but the tests in the bedrooms came back at 10pci, the EPA threshold for action is 'act' we must. The basic idea is to drill a hole (or two if you own an eighty foot long house) insert a pipe and depressurize the slab beneath by installing a small fan in the attic space connected to that pipe exhausting to the atmosphere...where radon (being heavier than air) settles right back down on the ground?! Anyhow, the company we've hired to install the system guesses the current levels in the basement, where the radon seeps into the house, are in the 20s, not an ideal place to send the kids on a winter's afternoon to ride their bikes I suppose.

Thank you to the IRS for funding this project with $1800 of fresh hot rebate.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

There's a difference

between drawing, design and the take your pants off kind of living you do day to day. Where do we put our clothing? Where do we put the vacuum? How about books? Where should the bar of soap sleep it off? Why does the beautiful rainshower head function more like a misty morning? I find that designing affords freedom...line on paper lacks realism, it's all about composition, the layering of materials, walls meeting at 90 degrees. Now I'm a victim of my decision to 'cut costs' by not allowing for enough storage...not a single closet. I had an idea of where all of these things might live eventually, now I'm facing the reality of what it means to store things in the basement. Out of arms reach is quite inconvenient for things like your vacuum or...the 'diaper champ'. I'm not sure modernism allows room for things like diaper champs anyhow, but you get the idea. That's making it on the top 10 list of misgivings.
In stereo...with time lapse...

Photos of the antechamber / dressing area that transitions between the main living space and our bedroom, the pocket door to the room keeps us from frightening the children. The wardrobe works well and its size forces regular donations to the Salvation Army. These doors would make great room dividers, translucent tempered glass in aluminum frames (by IKEA).

I was checking out hinoki products after spying a stool I loved on VivaTerra and in lieu of spending a small fortune on bath mats, I spent $17 on an 8' piece of clear vertical grain western red cedar, ripped it into bite sized pieces and created a small shower rest for keeping soap, shampoo, etc. Punctuates the need for wood and other warm tones in the bathroom.

Soap tray for our shower...d-line, $197.10.....right.....keep looking