Split Box House, Atlanta, Georgia. DiG Architects.
“The Split Box House, for a busy working couple and their three children, is located near Emory University and the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia. The client’s wanted a house that is a quiet, restrained, escape from the excessively noisy digital world that overly stimulates their daily lives and is a reaction to the surrounding banal spec homes each a louder spectacle than the next.
Simple and clean in its form the house started as a twenty-two foot wide extruded box. That width was chosen based on the distance a reasonable size wood truss can span. This ensured that no interior support walls were required allowing for an uncomplicated open floor plan. Arranged in an efficient pattern to eliminate waste, the primary exterior cladding of the box is a low maintenance grey cement panel. The panels, attached as an open joint ventilated rainscreen system, help manage moisture intrusion and reduce energy consumption.
Cut to the desired length based on the space requirements of the family, the box is subsequently split into public and private volumes allowing for a clear delineation between functions. The private portion is rotated ninety degrees around the sky-lit stair hall to maximize views to the serene woods behind the house. A complimentary warm ipe wood, alluding to the softer interiors of the house, clads the cuts. The exposed roofs are covered with vegetation to reduce stormwater runoff, mitigate energy consumption and improve air quality. Comprised of the bedrooms upstairs and the guesthouse on the main level, the private functions bridge across a covered breezeway creating an outdoor room with a view corridor to the woods and access to the main and guest house entrances.
The public functions move through a series of low and tall spaces culminating in a double height sky-lit space. The skylights provide shifting light patterns throughout the day and are operable to create passive cooling during the warm months. The houses six skylights and the low-e insulated glazed windows use sunlight instead of artificial light for illumination to decrease the house’s energy consumption. Lined with cabinets on one side that serve as storage, housing for the entertainment center, fireplace, dining room buffet, refrigerator, and freezer allows the public functions to stay open, clean, and uncluttered.
The quiet interiors create a relaxing calm environment that is about the space itself and the views to the outside. A series of site walls, carefully nestled into the steep lot which slopes forty-two feet down from the front to the back of the property, cascade down the hill from the street to create a terraced entrance garden that becomes the exposed foundation of the house. Long grasses, appropriate for the climate, reinforce the simple geometric forms of the house with their naturally soothing sway and unify the engineered slopes that mitigate the grade differences of the site. The manicured lower lawn adjacent to the grove of trees give way to the ever changing natural beauty of the woods beyond.”
Photo credit: Alexander Herring