S0001  / 2015—17


The Shadow House is a product of the context it sits within, yet it subverts it at the same time. It’s impossible to ignore it up close, yet from afar it disappears into the ether. A tiny lot, a large program, restrictive zoning regulations and an involved neighborhood interest group were the constant and unrelenting pressures that created this house — and the result is better off for it. 

The scalloped shingles are a common element across the neighborhood, but are often reserved for detail areas under eaves, as the material was very expensive one hundred years ago. We took that highly-specialized, very exclusive material and applied it as a broad, mass-produced texture across the entire residence — taking something from highlight to background texture. The silhouette directly echoes the Italianate homes in the larger neighborhood — but we stripped the typical ornate, decorated façade back to utter minimalism. We enlarged the typical window size to exaggerate the rigid symmetry of the style, and brought them to the floor and the ceiling to provide as much light as possible — and then recessed them deep into the façade to mimic the heavy brick and stone lintels of the past.

The house is black — the only color it could be. If we’d painted it up like its Victorian sisters, it would’ve competed for attention. Black causes the house to simultaneously disappear and stand out — it is impossible to ignore while you’re walking past, but a few blocks away it becomes impossible to discern against the background.

Two bedrooms with en-suite baths, floor-to-ceiling windows, an airy and open staircase and a massive glass roof door make the Shadow House impossibly light and open — yet it’s only 1,400 square feet on a 30’ x 50’ lot.


photography by ehren joseph