One of the hardest jobs in architecture is to add onto an existing structure, whether it be a work of great historic importance or of a lesser, more unassuming capacity. Given a blank canvas, there is unlimited potential and infinite possibilities for a designer to explore. When a client wants to do an addition to a small mid-century house on a large forested lot, however, that canvas is no longer empty and the range of potential possibilities is greatly reduced. In this instance, the challenge was to design an addition that will triple its square footage while simultaneously maintaining the integral qualities and intrinsic charm of the original. This became most evident in the spatial planning and proportionality of the existing building and its counterbalance with the new. Since there was an existing, predetermined dedication of space in the old house, any relocation of an element to the addition opened up a vacancy where it had previously resided.
The clients also wanted to explore two distinct directions, one was to keep the addition in the same architectural language as the original; further emphasizing the mid-century form with a more welcoming entry sequence, inspired by the courtyard houses designed by Joseph Eichler. The second direction was to design a more contemporary structure that creates its own presence while quietly paying homage to the older part of the home. In both alternatives the arrangement of functions is constant, as the interior intentions remained the same.
The existing building will become the more private pennon of the new whole with two renovated bedrooms and baths. The existing living room is to be expanded greatly in length and function, opening up to a new kitchen and dining area all with expansive views of the nearby bucolic creek. Two new wings lift off from this expanded central body, making separated spaces for a new guest room, garage, and utilities to the south and a more muted master suite to the north. The extended roofs of the larger form erode to simpler shapes giving prominence and hierarchy to the overall composition. The overall interior objective was to continue the outside inside, eliminating the boundaries between them as much as possible. This was achieved through the use of solids and voids of glass and the continuation of materiality both inside and out. This was particularly important for the entry sequence, where the corporeal experience transitions from the uninhibited natural world into the controlled amenities of a home. This in-between realm, an enclosed courtyard, is both interior and exterior at the same time.