House Etch is a private home for a professional couple with children located in the Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago. The couple was drawn to the mid-century modern aesthetic of Latin American architecture where ornament made way for interest in volumes and planes and exterior materials were expressed and celebrated. Drawing on the visionary work of that time from architects such as Niemeyer, Villanueva and Le Corbusier, the owners looked to explore those past innovative forms and materials with a fresh interpretation.
In response to their vision and the materials used in early Latin American modern architecture, the exterior was comprised of two materials to ensure a strong composition; board formed concrete and stained cedar.The concrete which forms the base of the house defines the public spaces, while the stained cedar upper volume defines the private spaces along with other accents of the house.
The two materials have a somewhat reciprocal relationship to each other. The wood boards that form the surface for the concrete below, leave an etched tracing of the wood that formed them, while the exposed cedar displays the true material itself. Both etched on the surface.
The program for the residence was a common one in the city; how to provide an abundance of natural light while still ensuring privacy. The first step for this solution was to determine the views, what needed to be controlled and what could allow for glimpses both inside and out. The solution was to create a ribbon of windows, tight to the first floor ceiling that expanded downward in the public floor and upward in the private floor throughout the house. This allowed the ability to control views, while still maintaining natural light coming in on the corner lot.
The main entry sequence of the residence offers the visitor a dramatic view of the 36 foot wide, 13 foot cantilevered cedar volume that defines and protects a private exterior entertaining terrace off the main level, but hidden from view from the street or entry door. Once inside the house, the first floor erupts into a light-filled seemingly transparent volume. Windows wrap the house allowing open and controlled views to the exterior tree lined streets. This main level mostly comprises of white drywall surfaces with accents of the board formed exterior concrete extending inside to form the cantilevered fireplace and other select walls.
The protected entertainment terrace is accessible from the entire main level, of which then transitions down to a large landscaped and playful yard which includes amenities such as a whirlpool, a basketball court and an in-ground trampoline for their kids.The upper private level, accessed from an open riser steel and glass staircase consists of the bedrooms and a reading lounge that opens up to the living and dining rooms below, acting as an extension of those rooms with views to the exterior street below.
The composition of volumes and planes scored with ribbons of windows make by passers stop and take notice-both day and night on this active residential street corner.