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Residential Architecture Design: Creating Beautiful, Functional & Sustainable Homes       

Introduction

Residential architecture design starts with hiring an architect, is executed through the architect’s design process, and typically results in the creation of a beautiful, functional, and sustainable custom home. The primary objective of any architect when hired to produce residential architectural design is to create spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but to also provide comfortable living experiences for occupants while keeping construction costs and energy-efficiency in mind. The field of residential architecture design combines several professional disciplines, including architects, general contractors, structural engineers, energy raters, and sometimes mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers. Residential architectural design also involves the use of various styles and architectural concepts for residential design to create homes that meet the aesthetic and functional needs of clients.  Your architect will be able to serve you best if you select one that most closely aligns with your preferred residential architecture design style.

Understanding Residential Architecture Design

Creating a great residential architecture design first involves a detailed understanding of the client’s needs and preferences by the architect. An architect must listen carefully to the client’s ideas and collaborate with them to create a residential architectural design that meets their requirements. This often starts with the architect interviewing the client during their first and possibly second meetings during contract negotiations. If your potential residential architect isn’t interviewing, you about your needs and preferences during those first meetings then you should consider this a red flag during the hiring process when narrowing down which architect to hire. Additionally, the architectural design for residential houses must still be practical, functional, and meet the zoning requirements of the site. Site analysis is a crucial step in the design process, and an architect must consider the site’s topography, vegetation, and natural surroundings to ensure that the design integrates seamlessly with the environment. Make sure to ask any residential architect you are considering hiring about when, in their design process, they research all of the aforementioned site constraints.

Design Principles for Residential Architecture

Architectural concepts, iterations, and final designs for residential design should include a balance of form, function, and aesthetics. This balance is of principles is as old as the profession of architecture. In fact, Vitruvius, the first Roman architect to have written surviving records of his field, asserted in his book De architectura that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitatis, utilitatis, venustatis – that is, stability, utility, and beauty. These are sometimes termed the Vitruvian virtues or the Vitruvian Triad. Additionally, a good residential architectural design should optimize the use of natural light, ventilation, and privacy to create a comfortable living environment for the occupants. The use of sustainable materials and energy-efficient systems is also a critical factor in residential architectural design. A sustainable design will help reduce the carbon footprint of the home, lower energy costs, and create a healthier living environment for occupants.

Trends in Residential Architecture Design

Residential architectural designs have evolved over the years, with several trends emerging. Open floor plans have become increasingly popular since the early 1990s, as they provide a more social and interactive living environment. Multipurpose spaces are also gaining popularity, especially since the Covid pandemic, as they offer more flexibility and adaptability in the use of space with more and more professionals working from home. Sustainable features such as green roofs, rainwater harvesting, and solar panels are being integrated into residential architectural designs to reduce energy consumption and promote sustainable living. The use of technology in residential architecture design has also increased, with smart home features and home automation becoming more prevalent.

Case Studies in Residential Architecture Design

An example of a case study in residential design is our infamous Eastwatch home.  For this home we focused on the following concepts: functionality, endurance, and efficiency.

Functionality

The owners of this home had always believed that form must follow function. In a well thought out system, there must be a reason for everything. Things without reason should be removed. This belief set the tone for the home. The floor-to-ceiling windows and brick wall passively heat the home. The island kitchen separates cooking from baking and guests from hosts. Long roof overhangs protect the house from snow and block the high summer sun.

Elegance is the intersection of function, beauty and simplicity. The structure’s simple geometric shapes respect the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. As does the muted palette of the interior. The building should frame the expansive view, not compete with it. 

Endurance

For the owners, building a custom home was a once in my lifetime opportunity. With many decades ahead of them, the house needed to accommodate their changing needs as they aged. This meant no stairs, ADA compliant doors and hallways. Additionally, blocking was placed within the walls for handrails if needed.

Beyond mobility concerns, the structure itself needed to last well into the future. The house’s location in the Rocky Mountain high county created additional structural demands. To resist the strain of 100mph winds and yards of snow, a steel post and beam system supported the roof. To mitigate the ever present wildfire danger, the exterior material palette is steel, masonry and glass. With Class A fire rated TPO roofing and Ipe decking.

Efficiency

When owners set out to design and build their solar augmented house, it was a choice to build differently, to build smarter. A structure that passively offsets heating costs while maximizing the use of a beautiful mountain view. Efficiency is a Win-win, better for the homeowner and better for the environment.

Passive solar heat gain accounts for 75% of their home heating needs. At 8,200ft of elevation in climate Zone 5, the high temperature hovers around freezing through the winter. Even in these cold winter conditions, the hydronic in-floor heating is used less than 6 hours each night. The heat engine of the home is a southeasterly window wall paired with masonry thermal masses. The exposed concrete slab floor and internal brick wall provide 90 tons of thermal mass. During the summer, the sloped high ceilings carry hot air up and out of the house via awning windows.

Conclusion

Residential architecture design is a complex and multifaceted discipline that requires a detailed understanding of architectural design principles, sustainable design practices, and construction techniques. The field of residential architecture design is constantly evolving, with new trends and innovative designs emerging. Architects must collaborate with clients to create functional and sustainable residential architectural designs that meet their needs. By integrating architectural concepts for residential design, architects can create homes that are not only beautiful but also functional and sustainable. If you are interested in exploring our residential architecture designs, please explore the exceptional designs created by our excellent architects and visit our portfolio today.