44th Street House
There are two big ideas and one question working in this house: The first idea is that it is possible to make a good house from the prosaic materials and methods of builder-grade housing if they are used in a more considered way. The second is that a “green” house is not much more expensive or complicated to build than a standard house if you are able to fit the house to the site and make appropriate choices about products and materials. The question is: how do you make a house for a modern family?
When I told friends that the house was going to have vinyl windows and concrete-board siding, they looked at me like – you’ve got to be kidding. But there is nothing wrong with these materials, the problem is the way that they are used: almost always to imitate another, higher quality product. The idea here was to use details and proportions to highlight their innate strengths and true contemporary nature.
The sustainable aspects of the project fall into what I think of as "easy green":
1. Fit the house to the site
2. Super-insulate the envelope
3. Orient spaces and windows to maximize daylighting and controlled solar gain
4. Choose certified-sustainable materials and products when they are cost competitive
The main space is designed to allow multiple ways of being “together” as a family starting with the kitchen: if you want to hang out with dad while he cooks dinner, you can be on a stool at the island or on the bench seat along the wall. Sitting at the dining table or on the couches is one remove; the main floor window seat is two, and the mezzanine-level nook is three.