Walter Chatham, Residence X
Is the ex-urban house viable? Until recently, the thinking was “no"–remote distance and scatter-site housing are considered antithetical to sound environmental design. Advances in electric-power and electric-powered transportation are changing the equation and remote-site housing promises to evolve into an environmentally acceptable model. How can we as designers help that along?
Residence X (ex) is a prototype for a new concept in modular house design. The house will be a combination of stick and factory-built, so bedroom, bath and kitchen modules can be arranged any number of ways to create different configurations. These will be tied together with stick-built sections on a unified foundation.
Thus, this project represents the idea of “many from one.” This project is also an “Art House.” It has been designed in collaboration with a well-known painter to showcase art inside and outside of the house.
The design presented is planned for a site with varied topography, and the illustrations show how the house is sited and approached–on axis with a tall, two-story garage structure which acts as the house marker. The rest of the house is low and dark, intended to blend or even disappear into the surrounding forest. This is consistent with a long-held desire on my part to create “stealthy architecture.” The world is filling-up with buildings and the natural world appears to be receding at an alarming rate. This design attempts to diminish the visual impact of the house as much as possible, except for a few key moments.; and to tie the house into the Landscape by extending and emphasizing the horizontality of the rooflines to enclose covered terraces. The house looks to be almost as much a void as it is a solid.
The Residence X design will be refined and built on a prepared site as a prototype for a community of 20 houses on 120 acres.