SLOW DESIGN: An Evolving Expression of Place and Personality

Presented by: Tamie Glass, Ulrich Dangel

Employing slow design principles, this transformative project has evolved over many years (designer’s involvement for the last four) into an architectural exploration of experimental materials and skillfully interwoven spaces. The hands-on team, inclusive of an engaged client who is supportive of the local design and arts community, has worked to orchestrate this one-of-a-kind home that simultaneously embraces the site and finely tuned programmatic needs of the interior. 

The slowing of the design process allowed for the revelation of experiences that are often overlooked. Environments and artifacts were examined for their reflective and contemplative potential beyond their perceived functionalities and physical attributes. The inclusion of nature, understanding of the seasons, and the passage of time became the impetus for many decisions. Maintaining privacy and protection from the southern exposure and street, the dwelling focuses on near views while allowing for transparency to the north toward the greenbelt. Careful consideration was given to natural ventilation and daylighting with operable windows strategically placed for cross breezes that work in conjunction with motorized awning windows on the second floor to allow heat to escape. Structural, rammed earth walls containing local soils anchor the house and act as thermal mass and a backdrop to equally distinctive, timeless materials. Environmentally responsible, no-VOC paints and finishes and energy-efficient LED lighting were used throughout as standard practice.

The layout offers a gradient of zones with a series of back-of-house areas on the first floor that are separated from the public face of the house by a semi-private stair. The living and dining areas were intentionally downsized to allow for a larger kitchen, which is supported by a scullery that serves as an overflow workspace. The second floor hosts private bedrooms and a shared family den and office. Universal design features, including an accessible ground floor bedroom and bathroom, provisions for a future elevator, and a ramped entry from the garage ensure longevity of the home for the owner.

Custom metalwork and millwork integrate seamlessly with salvaged and reclaimed materials and artifacts, ranging from the sensible to the sentimental. The team allowed plenty of time for research, observation, and intuitive changes during design and construction. Similarly, the owner eschewed the ready-made aesthetic resulting from the mainstream process of purchasing all new furnishings and specifying precise locations. Therefore, intimate interior spaces were carefully scaled, planned, and documented to allow the owner to furnish the home with unique, found, and handcrafted pieces and artwork that will be sourced over time.

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