The new family house is positioned along the site’s ridge and oriented toward the Sligo Creek Park since it was built in Takoma Park, Maryland in December 2016.
The house is set among rocks and trees on an undeveloped .15 acre land that overlooks the park, forming a linear structure in a cantilever cube with one level below being open and the other two enclosed upper levels. The house is understood frontally by the layering of principal facades. The house's form is also reflected in the distortion of the plan of the two decks above.
The total residential building volume is 7,620mm width x 16,459mm depth x 10,363mm height. The technical specifications for construction is a mixture of Insulated Concrete Form (structural wall with 5.33cm thick foam) and steel beams and columns. The flooring is Lite-Deck insulation (concrete with insulated foam) with radiant heating system which runs through first and second floors throughout, and was installed for energy efficiency reasons. The exterior veneer is a fiber cement panel with three colors. The terrace/landscape panel wall which is access to a carport are Cor-ten Steel.
The concrete fireplace is located in the middle of the opening story living room, which forms a central core to provide convenient access to any interior spaces. The concrete fireplace is formed with Portland cement, lime, and mortar and placed on a glazed porcelain base in the middle of living area. Concrete is not just a building material, it is the medium for a particular craft, and it is art. At the house, we put high value on the traditions of good craftsmanship and design.
The spatial organization of the house is based on a programmatic separation between public and private areas. The family in the household is intended to have a private space for sleeping, bathing, and retirement. The private part of the house is located at the rear if the house, overlooking the creek in the park. It consists of a series of closed, linear spaces organized on two and half levels. The public spaces where the family meet and entertain are on the entry side and faces land, woods, and road.
The spatial organization of the house is based on a programmatic separation between public and private areas. The family in the household is intended to have a private space for sleeping, bathing, and retirement. The private part of the house is located on the rear side to face the park and trees. It consists of a series of closed, linear spaces organized on all various levels. The public spaces are located at the front side entrance of the house, overlooking the wood forest.
The most challenging aspect of the lot was the variance of zoning setbacks, specifically due to the long periods of time waiting and hearing for the frontal building line grants. The house was built within no less than a 43' front lot line setback from the street, which enables the frontal building line, and aligns with adjacent the neighbors' houses on the block. Even though the house's two stories tall which was built to its maximum height limit, the house is consistent with the average height of minimum three neighbors' houses (two on both sides and one from across the street of the property in the block).
The compact, prismatic form of the house expresses a certain attitude toward the site: apart from being a shelter, the house is also an object which reflects and refracts the environmental land around it’s structure. The modern house is rooted in the historical city of Takoma Park, known for its detached bungalow houses.
Robert A. Nichols, Assoc. AIA, Principal, Nichols Design Associates, Inc., Washington, DC, USA
1979 to Present:
Over 39 years, Mr. Nichols served as architectural & urban designer, ADA accessibility specialist and Universal Design consultant as business owner. Review project goals and objectives with clients and provide cost estimates for commercial, residential, non-profit organization, and government building and facility projects. His expertise includes development lands, site planning, programming, design and construction developments and construction administration, and barrier-free environments in public transportations.
1981/Master of Architecture in Urban Design/Cornell University
1979/Bachelor of Architecture/Cornell University
American Institute of Architects (AIA) - DC Chapter, Associate Member,
World Deaf Architecture/AIA, President/Chairman of the Board of Directors