The new American Dream: 100K(+ 20) | Starter Home

House Typology by joelzook
August 31, 2008, 2:34 pm
Filed under: precedents | Tags:


“Even in a cursory study of American house types, it is important to focus on basic forms to achieve an understanding of more complex and sophisticated ones”

-Steven Holl, Pamphlet Architecture no. 9. pg 5.

Early American houses can generally be divided into several main categories, all growing from the original one room house. Houses changed over the years and were added on to, either an addition on an existing house or expanding on an earlier type. The “saddlebag” house type is a two room house on either side of a chimney. Examples of this type exist where the second room was an addition while others were planned as such from the beginning. “Dogtrot” houses were common in the South, where the hot climate made a covered breezeway between two rooms desirable on hot summer evenings. The separated rooms also had the advantage of keeping heat from the kitchen out of the bedroom. Holl’s pamphlet examines several urban house types as well from the “shotgun” houses concentrated in New Orleans to the Rowhouse and Double House found in cities everywhere.

It is interesting to compare the urban and rural houses in the book. Seemingly, the urban houses are dictated by lot size/shape and not much else. Many of the urban house designs are formed with concerns to shared wall, lot lines and street facades. Conversely, rural houses seem more concerned with conservation of materials and response to climate.

The telescoping house seems most out of place of the group, but I think in provides an interesting way of thinking about houses. Many of these houses seem haphazardly put together at first glance, but upon closer inspection follow careful rules of proportion. Many telescoping houses were planned as a “starter home” and added onto later as needed. For any of us who are planning to make a home for two or three people the concept of an expandable home is important.

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