In the late 19th Century, a Denver judge commissioned a Russian emerge carpenter to build a house that resembled a doll house scaled Palladian villa, in what was then the countryside north of Denver. 100 years later, the house is part of a 13,000 square foot site in an established urban neighborhood. The project brief was to develop the site by adding 3 additional units and restoring the Russian House.
The design concept was to split the site in two and develop 2 duplexes. The first would include the whole Russian House as one unit and the second building, a more conventional back to back configuration but massing and fenestration designed to appear as one, not two residences.
Architecturally and visually the houses needed to relate yet evolve in design from the traditional aesthetic present on the site. This was achieved by developing “variations and evolution of a theme.” The second structure, attached to the Russian House, is smaller at 1000 square feet and abstracted the form and color of the original. The stand alone duplex took the abstract of the second structure several steps farther. Color and material changed but window proportions remained the same. This variation on a theme jumped the street and carried into the design of Russia 43v2.
The new construction was 3 stories with 2+ bedrooms and approximately 1500 square feet each. The houses open up internally with vertical spaces and large glazed openings and borrowed lights allowing daylight to penetrate deep into every room. Massing at the third level steps back to allow access to private roof decks.
The exterior is a combination of siding and stucco with the entire second structure being horizontal siding finished in a gesture toward the brick of the original house. The duplex is predominately stucco with large wood clad windows. The interiors are simple. Polished concrete floors and drywall surfaces animated by the play of natural light. South facades have full solar access allowing for approximately 40% of each house’s electrical needs to be supplied by photovoltaic electricity.
all photography by Ron Pollard unless otherwise noted