Page D3.1 . 08 November 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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  • Detailing the Not So Big House

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    Detailing the Not So Big House

    by Sarah Susanka

    Previously, ArchitectureWeek explored the popular ideas of architect Sarah Susanka in "Big Ideas Behind Not So Big Houses". In her new book "Creating the Not So Big House," Susanka explains and illustrates spatial design concepts in a way that makes it easy for readers to apply them in their own houses.

    Three of these detailing design concepts are discussed in this excerpt, and illustrated with houses from three different regions of the United States.

    Framed Openings

    New Mexico House by Daniel Hoffmann

    One spatial concept relates to the effect you get by setting off a change of place with a framed opening. Surround an opening with trim, and you subtly communicate this change and, in so doing, give the places on either side their own separate identities.

    Think about a front door, for example. When you move through the framed opening of the door, you are aware of moving through a gateway that separates exterior from interior. The way you feel once inside is very different from the way you felt outside. The frame informs you that you've entered a new place, and you experience that new place differently as a result.

    Although we associate this concept primarily with doorways, it can be employed in any location where you want to distinguish one space from another. Wide framed openings between kitchen, living, and dining areas clearly define each activity place within a minimal area.

    This technique was used frequently in bungalows of the early 20th century, and for the same reason: to make less space do more. The cased archways of these old gems are one of their most appreciated features.



    ArchWeek Photo

    This new Pueblo-style house in Taos, New Mexico by architect Daniel Hoffmann fits easily into its historic neighborhood.
    Photo: Grey Crawford

    ArchWeek Photo

    The framed opening has thickened walls at the base, making use of the sculptural quality of adobe.
    Photo: Grey Crawford


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