The Stripe House by GAAGA Studio Architecture
The Stripe House is a new home in the Netherlands designed by GAAGA Studio Architecture. It is built in a new neighborhood of rowhouses where the parcels were sold as bare land and each owner had their house individually designed. Unlike most of the neighboring houses, the Stripe House is set back from the front property line. Because the house fronts on a narrow pedestrian street, the architects increased the separation from the houses opposite by creating a small entry court that takes up a quarter of the lot. They compensated for the lost building area by going up with a three story structure. The name Stripe House refers to the horizontal grooves troweled into the exterior stucco finish, adding texture and refinement to facades that would otherwise have appeared somewhat monotonous. The other obvious feature of the exterior is the enormous, storefront-sized windows. Note though that some of the windows are flanked by white panels that make them appear larger than they really are.
The house is organized with the most public areas at the bottom and the private areas at the top. The ground floor is mostly devoted to a large office/studio workspace for a home-based business. The open plan living area is up on the second floor with a long linear kitchen taking up an entire wall. The two bedrooms are on the third floor, and the house is topped with its second outdoor space, a large roof deck. GAAGA has arranged the ground floor so that the workspace could be divided in half, allowing a third bedroom to be added in the future if needed. Because small houses have fewer rooms to work with, they tend to be less flexible than larger houses. Consciously planning for flexibility helps ensure that a small house can adapt to the occupants’ changing needs.
The large windows were mentioned earlier. As the house is at the end of the block, windows could be placed on three sides. The back of the house faces a small park, and the courtyard in front provides a bit of a buffer from the pedestrian street. As a result, the living and workspace windows face in those directions. The third floor was high enough that privacy was not an issue, so the architects placed a huge window facing the side at that level. The third floor is set back from the window to form a lightwell, allowing evening sunlight to flood down to the main living area. Both bedrooms have interior windows that provide views through the lightwell. We discussed how a lightwell can be used to create the impression of a higher ceiling when we looked at House In Saitama by Satoru Hirota Architects. With the Stripe House, the lightwell is wider and the window comes down lower, so the occupants actually get a nice view of the sky when seated in the living area.
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