Moto Designshop - Filigree House in Philadelphia: a new architectural expression inspired by traditional bricks
  1. Home
  2. Award 2023
  3. House
  4. Filigree House in Philadelphia: a new architectural expression inspired by traditional bricks

Filigree House in Philadelphia: a new architectural expression inspired by traditional bricks

Moto Designshop

House  /  Completed
Moto Designshop

As a developer-driven spec house, it was crucial to balance the ambitions of provocative architectural ideas with constraints of a realistic budget. The eventual owner of this home was not the intended owner, at least, not at the very beginning. The rare nature of this property inspired the developer to play an active role in the design of what became his family's future home. The initial question asked by the designers was as follows; how can the traditional brick be pushed to inspire new forms and expressions on a traditional street in the heart of Philadelphia? The concept of a layered brick screen was developed directly with the mason and steel fabricators. The design aimed to iterate on the traditional brick row house typology of Philadelphia to create a new architectural expression.

On a prominent street in Philadelphia’s Graduate Hospital neighborhood, the 418 mq Filigree House house sits on a double wide infill lot. A standard residential lot in this city is typically between 14 and 16 feet, resulting in a housing typology that is now centuries old. The rare dimensions of this property created an opportunity for the homeowner to claim more space in the heart of Philadelphia. The duality to this opportunity was the unique challenge posed to the architect: to contextualize the project and balance architectural ambition with a desire to formally integrate with the neighborhood. Reflecting its neighbors in material, the brick façade of the Filigree House is a familiar face on this street; it is through expression that this home stands apart.

We redeveloped this site and sourced construction materials locally. We partnered with local fabricators and contractors to achieve the project.

AIA Philadelphia 2022

“Filigree House”
Edward Keegan, AIA, 9 Dec. 2022

Silver Award / Single Family
Residence, 2021

Craftsmanship Award 2021

“It Was Supposed to be a Spec
House. Then the Builder Got
Emotionally Involved.”
Tim McKeough, 22 Feb. 2022

Interior Design Magazine 2021

AIA Tri-State 2021

AIA Pennsylvania 2021

A technically clever variation in bond and orientation allows this experiment of brick to expand on the traditional brick rowhouse typology. Prioritizing privacy for the owner and visual interest, a carefully crafted, 4-layer brick screen façade system was developed. The dynamic form of the brick results in shifting highlights and shadows throughout the day. The screen effectively acts as a veil. This layered brick facade is structurally supported by a curved steel support frame, dark and sinuous in contrast to the earthy brick. A freestanding helical stair of steel and wood is visible from the street, filtering the views inward of passersby. From the outside, the stair lends verticality to the dynamic brick face through framed openings in the screen, while also reflecting the sinuous nature of the dark steel frame support. The stair anchors the interior double-height space, providing the user an intimate look at the inside of the brick screen as they ascend. As the street succumbs to dusk, the veil now illuminates from the inside; formally dark voids in the brick screen now glow. The interior spaces of the Filigree House benefit from the double wide lot. Enclosed utilitarian spaces are centralized in plan, providing light-filled perimeter rooms for gathering. The brick façade is capped by the terrace perimeter, while the third story steps backward, allowing the screen to stand as a unified material expression.

Not a quote from our client, but the AIA Pennsylvania Award Jury described the project as follows: “That’s striking, it’s restrained, balanced with playfulness.”


 Pennsylvania, USA
 Stephen Rodriguez
 Private Residence
 418 mq
  1,000,000.00 $
 Moto Designshop - Founding Partner and Creative Director: Roman Torres, Founding Partner and Managing Director: Adam Montalbano, Partner and Technical Director: Eric Oskey
 Moto Designshop and Holzman Iron Studio
 Stephen Rogriguez of Rodriguez Design
 Ramtin Saneekhatam, Orndorf & Assoc. (Structural Engineer)
 Acoustical System: Acoustiblok quiet rock, rockwool, mass loaded vinyl. Appliances: Dacor. Bathroom/Kitchen Fixtures: Hansgrohe. Brick: Bowerston. Cabinets: Giorgi Kitchens. Countertops: Philadelphia Soapstone & Marble soapstone. Furniture: Eames, Knoll, and Herman Miller. HVAC: Bosch 21 Seer VFR. Lighting Control Systems: Decora. Lighting: Eurofase. Paints and Finishes: Sherwin Williams Emerald. Plumbing and Water System: Uponor. Windows and Doors: Marvin
 Halkin Mason Photography


Moto Designshop is an unconventional Architecture and Interior Design studio based in Philadelphia, PA, USA. We embark on each project with an intrinsic curiosity about what drives our client’s aspirations and a rich understanding of construction methodologies. It is this balance that ensures a finely-tuned architectural experience at every scale. Above all else, we have a passion for the process of making, artfully crafting the built environment with a human-centric approach. Moto Designshop is a certified Minority Business Enterprise.

Featured projects include:

Saint Joseph's University Arrupe Hall
Location: Lower Merion, PA
Size: 1485 mq
Cost: $12 Million USD

Filigree House
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Size: 418 mq
Cost: $1 Million USD

Location: Philadelphia, PA
Size: 6500 mq
Cost: $30 Million USD

Flying Fish Brewing
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Size: 930 mq
Cost: $700,000 USD


#Finalist #Acciaio  #Laterizio  #Pietra  #Vetro  #Residenza  #Philadelphia  #Facciata in mattoni  #Pennsylvania, USA  #Telaio in acciaio  #Moto Designshop 

© Maggioli SpA • THE PLAN • Via del Pratello 8 • 40122 Bologna, Italy • T +39 051 227634 • P. IVA 02066400405 • ISSN 2499-6602 • E-ISSN 2385-2054
ITC Avant Garde Gothic® is a trademark of Monotype ITC Inc. registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and which may be registered in certain other jurisdictions.