Located in the northern suburbs of Chicago, this house sits opposite a unique object: the Baha’i Temple, 135 ft. high of white stone, symmetrically spherical, and monumental. The street-side face of the house must negotiate not only the scale and specificity of this alien architecture but also, the eclectic nature of the suburban environment. And the house must negotiate a 40 foot elevation differential between the road and the lake.
The house consists of four levels. A two story structure, windowless on the street, contains the garage, a gym, and a guest suite. This façade is unresidential in scale, but acts as foil to the monument it faces. Almost an inversion of the opposite grand stairs that lead up to the temple entrance, the main house entry is located at the top of the stair with the spaces of the house revealing themselves on the way down to the beach below. As one descends down the processional – light filled stairway the house gives itself away, beneath the typical American suburban lawn above. The architecture creates an experience, where the whole is pieced together through one’s mental landscape of moving down and through the house.
A mostly buried building with large operable windows facing the lake, the house requires less energy than a similar building of its type and size; tempered by the earth both passively through the combination of a green roof system and buried facades, and actively, by means of geothermal wells feeding heat pumps for heating and cooling the building. The above ground gym’s wall are clad in continuous insulation and its roof houses a network of solar hot water panels.
The house is about the transition from suburban streets to lakeside beach on this unusual site. There are overlapping journeys provided by the house, from working world to family life, from formal to informal, from public to private worlds.
Material Used :
1. Sky-Frame (aluminum glazing)
2. American Hydrotech (green roof manufacturer)
3. Vancouver Gas (fireplace)