Real life renovation creates amazing results

This beautiful contemporary residence in Iowa City was built in 1941 and subsequently expanded several times over the decades, was a complex mass housing a maze of rooms with no overall sense of organization. The home had one compelling feature, a large site in an established neighborhood surrounded by mature trees. The desire to liberate and organize the interior spaces and connect them to this landscape was a central theme which guided the homes renovation.

The designers, Substance Architecture, employed a series of transformational tactics to simplify and expand the home. The gable form was expanded vertically (by increasing the roof slope) and extruded to the north to increase the homes volume within the existing foundation. The existing windows were replaced and their rhythm extended to order the home’s fenestration. The result is a simple, almost archetypal, “house shape”. This gabled volume was then expanded with a series of porches providing a transitional space between inside and outside, as well as solar protection for new enlarged glass openings. These porches, in turn, frame exterior spaces around the home.

The interior is similarly direct. The first level of the home becomes a single, white, open volume with a dark mass of service spaces placed off-center. This mass subtly defines the first level living spaces. The second level houses the bedrooms while the attic becomes a playroom space, flanked by additional bedrooms. Throughout, efforts were made to create a cohesive whole with a sense of openness out of the cellular rooms of the existing home.

The home before the renovation.

Photography by Paul Crosby

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