Architect Matthew Salenger was able to talk the forward-thinking developer for this infill prototype project into seeing the value of a stunning but pricey steel screen to enclose a front courtyard. Not only did the screen’s good looks and experiential quality help sell the house as well as the second version being built next door, but it is also caught our jury’s attention: “The sexy thing is that you’re looking through this gauzy screen in the front. They absolutely put all their design dollars into that one move.”
“Putting the courtyard in front solved all of our design dilemmas,” Salenger explains. “It made sense to put living spaces up front but I didn’t want a door into a living room, plus there’s some kind of break between living and the street, and the big issue was that an interior courtyard would cost so much more in finishes.” That eye-catching element consists of rusted and sealed natural steel sheets sliced into strips of various widths and stacked at different angles. Computer-generated experimentation on the size of gaps in the screen produced carefully modulated degrees of transparency that permit breezes to pass through, but also offers privacy at standing and sitting eye levels.
According to Salenger, the design team still had some budget left to splurge on framless floor-to-ceiling interior doors and raw steel cladding on the rest of the exterior. The house also exceeds LEED Platinum requirements in energy-efficiency and other sustainable features.