Located on a narrow site in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, this new home for a young and growing family meets the primary challenges of living in urban spaces—access to natural light and landscape while providing assurances of privacy. The house is organized vertically around a piano nobile building section, with shared family spaces opening out onto a wide bridge connecting to a garage roof deck which serves as the family’s primary outdoor living space. Below the bridge is a secure, partially weather protected courtyard play area for children. The lower level includes all service spaces, guest rooms and a children’s play room adjacent to the courtyard. The family bedrooms are all located on the upper level. A landscaped roof deck atop the main house offers panoramic views back toward the downtown Chicago skyline.
A ribbon of high clerestory windows brings south light to the main floor living spaces while shielding views from neighboring houses. The upper floor sets in four feet along the north wall providing for a continuous skylight that brings indirect light to the main level year-round. A large window well screened by a perforated metal wall rises above the roof providing access and light deep into the house. This well provides passive solar shading and visual privacy from neighboring houses. This light well functions as a thermal chimney in warmer months drawing cool air through the landscaping at lower levels up through the house reducing cooling demand. Materials are low maintenance and will weather naturally.