Feb 1, 2009

'MRH', MARK #18 Feb/Mar 2009

Mark Magazine
Publisher: Frame PublishersAmsterdam
ISSN: 1574-6453

In the late 1890s, Americans experienced a surge of nationalism, transforming and sculpting this into a new type of architecture–the American Colonial Revival home. The LL house, designed by MRH Architects and located just outside Cincinnati, was once your typical Colonial Revival homestead. But after extensive renovation, the 70-m2 residence has been completely stripped of its interior and transformed into an outdoor seating area–anchoring the new home while keeping history alive. 

In a time where going ‘green’ is everywhere and preservationists are going to extremes, why completely gut the interior of an original colonial revival home?! 

Mireille Roddier: This is very much at the heart of the project. The clients weren't particularly attached to the existing yellow cottage, but felt they owed it to the villagers, and the historical conservation committee, to keep its external appearance intact. We liked the idea of preserving the image-thin fa├žade, while completely transforming the interior. The volume of the original home has been transformed into an entry courtyard with an aperture in the roof. From the courtyard, the programme of the new addition spirals outward. 

Has there been a strong reaction from the neighbours? 

Before construction began it was the talk of the town! Prior to construction, a 1:50 model of the house was on display at the town hall for anyone to comment on. Yellow Springs has always been a liberal puddle amid a conservative region, and I assume there must have been voices against us–but if that was the case, the clients shielded us from them. 

How is the new addition arranged in regards to the existing home? 

The northern half consists of a primary multipurpose  area, while the southern portion is organized into  separate sleeping and bathing areas–divided over two floors and connected by a series of ramps that cumulates in the centre of the home. We created another courtyard on the opposite side of the ramps, distinct from the ‘cottage courtyard’, providing further private outdoor space for the owners. 

Were any elements custom designed for the home? 

The original cottage’s interior was made of two storeys, plus a basement and attic. once the floor slabs were torn down, the floor beams of the existing cottage were recycled, allowing us to custom design the dining table from the existing cottage’s skeleton. 

MRH Architects