Plan for your Dream
House Planning e-book or CD here!
How can someone with a love
for cars and a medium budget to build a house, create the perfect
combination for both? Can the house plan layout also allow for
multi-generational living? Will it fit on smaller lots and is it available
in different styles? Can this idea be expanded for larger homes with even
more cars to enjoy? Can it be built even smaller? YES, on all counts!
The CLDH-1 has the bones to
be the solution to several scenarios. And the amazing thing is that the
idea was borne during Medieval times, finessed during the Renaissance, and
resurrected by Modernist architects like Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright!
How so? Well, it’s a long story but worth the read.
In the days before
electricity, air conditioning, mortgages, and architects – the outlook on
life was rather bleak; life expectancy was low and calamity of all types was
around the corner… Most of the European population in the 8-12th
centuries was involved in basic agrarian pursuits. Farmers at first built
one simple structure to live in and to protect their animals at night. It
was a basic box with a pitched roof. Inside, the family and livestock was
cordoned off by a rope or wood rail. Living conditions were rather
primitive as you can imagine! When expansion was possible two options came
to mind: either move the family up into the rafters/add a second floor -- or
build another structure for family only and leave the animals in the
original, designating it a barn. These two alternatives can be seen today in
the many examples dotting the countryside in Europe, especially in Provence
An alternative deemed
economical was to build a second floor for the family, leaving animals, farm
implements and stores below. In fact heat from the animals rose and helped
keep the second floor a bit warmer in the winter. The first floor fireplace
flu was built upon and extended through the second floor.
Now these living quarters
became the ‘piano nobile’—an Italian term that literally means the noble
level, or owner’s suites. Over centuries, the compact two-story form gained
the reputation of simple construction and energy/materials conservation.
The same derivative in colonial America is obvious. When the decision came
by those with means to build anew or for the first time, this geometrical
form was one of two options.
During the Renaissance,
symmetry (as in the human body) was deemed a guiding design principle.
While the rustic farms had single stairways usually off center, the larger
new villas being built by wealthy merchants and nobility in the south of
Europe incorporated central stairways or double flights on the outside to
offer a direct route to the piano nobile. (Villa di Poggio a C no, below)
When nobility and royalty
erected palaces and chateau, this same model was followed in countless
examples. If you recall Versailles, the king’s chambers and formal suites
are on the second level, not the first. The first floor contained rooms for
offices, livery, stores, guest suites and reception rooms. The wonderful
Linderhof in Bavaria is organized exactly in this manner. In Venice, the
palazzi on the canals have similar space layouts. In fact, this historic
idea was incorporated in several of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs and was the
model for Corbusier’s ‘Villa Savoye’ in the 1930’s.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s
reasoning to ‘go up’ was simply to avoid the noise and distraction of street
activity in a bustling age of horse carriages, noisy new cars, and constant
pedestrian traffic. He was so inspired by this tree top view to the outside
world that he created his famous leaded glass based on natural forms.
Corbusier wanted to improve the view of the owner’s ‘piano nobile’ on a
second living floor and offered a third level observation terrace. He also
separated the car and utilities (machines) from the living quarters. (Arthur Heurtley house below, FLWright)
In both models the ground
floor has two 2- car garages on either side of a center section which is a
den and a room for an office/work area with a separate entry. This den is
developed as either a showroom for car aficionados with pocket sliding glass
doors opening directly into the garages so that you can enjoy the toys
without having to go anywhere else, or as a second living area for
multi-generational living. A kitchenette can be included so that two
families or younger/older generations, relatives, special needs, elderly
parents, etc. can share the house.
The designs can be modified
with front load garages if the property is too tight and other plans are
developed for larger and smaller car collections, bedrooms and activity
spaces. The style of home can be nearly anything you can dream up based on
the two concept designs.
FUNCTIONALITY for MULTI-GENERATIONAL LIVING
These designs are zoned
to offer a maximum of flexible living arrangements. A few possibilities are
Can leave entire ground floor unfinished (new construction) including
elevator, and live perfectly on second floor. Dining area can be extended
into the bedroom and then in later years opened into a Ballroom.
Intermediate Aged Family:
Teens can move downstairs with their own Den. Washer/Dryer and small
Kitchen/eating area allows maximum privacy. Parents above also have their
Two different family groups or individuals can share space. Garages on
both sides of ground floor can be used independently of each other.
Independent entries are available on both levels.
Mature Family with
For baby boomers, semi-retired with aging parents- easy to care for loved
ones on main floor with own living and kitchen facility. Elevator can be
activated to bring upstairs for dining or visitation, etc. Private and
independent as necessary.
Office and Living:
This model is similar to medieval European examples in Germany, France,
England, Netherlands, etc. Living quarters above work area. Can bring
clients into building below without affecting owner’s quarters above. Extra
bedrooms become offices, etc. as zoning permits.
So, we have not really
reinvented the house -- John Henry Architect has reintroduced and packaged
this superb historic notion for the contemporary homeowner. Where there
were storerooms and animal stalls, now we have garages, storage area or
office with private exterior entry, secondary bedrooms with baths ensuite
for older children, parents, or a second family, galley kitchen/utility
room, and large central den/reception hall – accessed from ground floor
directly. There is a grand sweeping interior stairway or a winding stair,
and an elevator to communicate effortlessly with the upper floor.