• ap

  • Historically, residential neighborhoods in American cities have mixed styles over time, and, as a result, today the concept of mixing and matching styles within a neighborhood is widely accepted. Even more accepted is the idea that the homeowner has the right to choose what their dwelling looks like.

    Taken to an extreme, this choice was consolidated and booklet-ed by the Sears Modern Homes catalog, which ran in the beginning of the 20th century. This catalog featured a selection of individual houses in a wide range of architectural styles to its subscriber. Current HOME adopts this principle of choice and preference as it applies to the look of the American dwelling. Whereas European neighborhoods have been subject to more strict design guidelines, the American neighborhood combines various recognizable styles into a patchwork, producing an incoherent but clear whole. In the same way, Current HOME acts on a scale of a residential multifamily building, where individual expression of style (choice) is reflected in the expression of each dwelling unit's roof.

    In the design of detached single-family dwellings, the roof is arguably the most prominent and descriptive feature – its signifier. It is the familiarity of the roof in domestic architecture where we begin to trace its style. Gable, gambrel, mansard, and single-slope roofs are often correlated with Stick, Second Empire, Dutch-Colonial, and Mid-Century Modern, respectively [1]. For Current HOME, roof shape is abstracted as its own compartmentalized piece of a whole. Individual dwelling units come in six different roof styles [2], then aggregated and stacked together [3] to make up building blocks of various heights and lengths. It is this block that defines the final composition of its own facade [4]. Ultimately, neither the order of the units nor the number of stacks is of consequence to the final form [5, 6, 7]. Current HOME reflects back the internal preference of its occupant.

    Another crucial element of the detached single-family American dwelling is the backyard, a symbol for private exterior space, and a long-time driver in residential development. A home is not a home without a private relationship with nature. For Current HOME, the backyard is a shared park space, that provides a view onto nature for everyone inside, at an floor level. Regardless of the a designated site's scale, the backyard is half of the overall footprint [8, 9].

    Current HOME is structurally generic. Simple concrete slabs and walls make up the outer shell and demising walls between units, with glazing along either facade. The structural layout abides by a standard grid system, with consistent floor-to-floor heights [10] and shear wall spacing. Based on these standard widths, some units merge to form a larger home for larger family sizes.

    Though the unit widths are regular, depth is decreased as the stack grows higher. This traditional method of terracing accomplished two things: maximizing natural light onto the site and building itself, and, allowing each unit's main entry door access from the elongated splayed staircase, essentially behaving like vertical front porches. Each front door is oriented towards the street, much like a traditional singlefamilydetached house, and the final overall building circulation reminiscent of a stonequarry, each level relying on the previous to access it [11].

    The interior life of a home asks as much from individuality as the exterior, however, inside the home, layers of rituals, activities, and occupant's time-lines overlap throughout the day, making it a complex container for life. Modern open floor plans in single-family detached dwellings have absorbed some of this complexity, allowing for a more fluid relationship between functions, users, and times of day. In typical apartment buildings today, generic layouts that repeat easily for the sake of constructablity have dictated more of this interior life, with each unit laid out similarly if not identical. As a result, occupant's individuality rests solely on their personal possessions inside. To accommodate this genericism, the solution for for today's apartment building design has been no design at all. For Current HOME, each unit is tailored to the homeowner [12, 13]. Interior layouts reflect a highly customized way of life. The Chef's home [14, 16] is different from the Painist's home [15, 17], which is different from the Producer's home. At its most diverse, no unit in the stack repeats itself. The ground floor offers a layout for occupants who prefer the generic, however, with three 'typical' options. Current HOME approaches interior life through the lens of its owner: what if the objects (occupant) came first? What if the interior world of our homes could land in a layout that could accommodate them?

    Altogether these conditions come together to produce Current HOME [18, 19, 20]. Though mixing styles and individuality has long thought to be problematic with regards to the aesthetic of the urban fabric, Current HOME asks, 'What if a multifamily residential building could design into this eclecticism?' Where traditional apartment buildings that have been driven by stackable efficiency and interior informity, now, a different kind of building, comprised of an assortment of personal taste, preferences, and customization may still be able to find its way into something that still feels and reads as a multi-family home. And in this case, can a block of seemingly randomly-combined individual worlds provide enough of 'the specific' condition (the single-family detached house) to satisfy our need of obliterating the 'generic' one (apartment buildings constructed like office buildings) and ultimately change our views of what home can be?

    Thumbnail Image 1

    Thumbnail Image 3

    Thumbnail Image 2