It’s familiar and yet it’s not. Looks small but feels big. Appears to be a simple design, but is assuredly complex.
The beautiful contradiction is Haus Gables, the home that architectural designer Jennifer Bonner designed for herself, husband and young daughter in the Old Fourth Ward of Atlanta, Georgia.
Holding a master’s from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, she has been an Assistant Professor of Architecture there for four years, as well as Director of its Master in Architecture II Program. Bonner spends a lot of time researching numerous aspects of architecture that interest her, and then she exhibits her findings in design galleries. Her work becomes part of the school’s pedagogy and “influences how architecture is interpreted,” she explains.
Bonner also heads her own company, Mass Architectural Loop de Loops, known as MALL, which provides insight into Bonner’s take on her chosen field, explaining that her mission is to “create projects that appropriate history, hack typologies, reference cultural events and invent representation (the way projects are visualized). In other words, to “turn architecture on its head by questioning paradigms.”
Inspired by one of her design-and-research projects titled “Domestic Hats,” a study of the roof lines of Atlanta residences, Haus Gables is turned upside-down: The roof determines footprint and floorplan as opposed to the reverse, which is usually done. “The six gables combine to form one roof yet also outline rooms, form passages and create double-height spaces making the house feel much more voluminous than it actually is,” notes Bonner.
The two-story house, encompassing 2,200 square feet, is 18 feet wide and has two bedrooms, two baths, dining room, living room, kitchen and mudroom, plus a patio. One of a handful of houses in the country made of cross-laminated timber (CLT), a zero-waste, thermally sound and exceptionally strong wood material – structural engineers say it can withstand hurricanes – the walls, floors and roof were assembled in 14 days.
Against white-washed walls, yellow, teal and pink stand out, while novel faux finishes – terrazzo applied as a thin tile, vinyl drawn with a marble pattern, synthetic stucco with a glass bead finish stamped to look like bricks, and color blocking seen through multiple windows – achieve her goal of reimagining past paradigms in a fresh new way.
Furnished by pieces from several different female designers, including Ray Eames, Patricia Urquiola and Ragnheiður Ösp, the look is unabashedly minimal. Built-in wardrobes do the trick, with all kitchen cabinets below the counter. “We’re minimalists,” quips Bonner.
Next on the agenda? “This house was a breakthrough,” continues Bonner. “Now I need to go out and find developers and investors to partner with and build more,” undoubtedly using her experiments as jumping-off points for buildings unlike any we’ve seen before.
Photography by Naaro.
This story originally ran in the ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME Magazine Summer issue. See full imagery of the project with a subscription to the magazine.