The award-winning firm's Ardmore House - a contemporary Chicago residence - is a welcome departure from the norm.
words: Spoorthi Satheesh
photos courtesy of Kwong Von Glinow
Kwong Von Glinow is an internationally recognized Chicago-based design practice led by Lap Chi Kwong and Alison Von Glinow. Their work translates forward-thinking architectural concepts into playful designs with broad appeal.
For this 3,100-square-foot Chicago home (dubbed the Ardmore House), the designers drew inspiration from several Frank Lloyd Wright projects by flipping its residential sections upside-down. The communal areas, including the living room, dining room and kitchen, are deliberately located on the upper level, while the bedrooms are on the ground floor.
“Our goal was to design a contemporary living environment and to prioritize healthy living values within the home,” says Kwong. “The most significant difference that the sectional flip brings is the amount of light that the living room receives. It creates a pleasant experience without needing any artificial light during most of the day.”
The "flip" also gives the communal areas the best sightlines to the outside while maintaining privacy from the street level. Four trusses span above the shared public spaces, offering a distinct atmosphere to each area underneath.
The interior courtyard on the first level - which is 6 feet at its widest point - mediates the home’s communal spaces with the private bedrooms and bathrooms, providing access to each bedroom, open space for seating, and a built-in library nook. “The interior courtyard on the ground floor and the open floor plan of the second floor allow for a more contemporary living area that bridges the two levels, instead of separating them from one another,” Kwong says.
Two bedrooms are located just off the courtyard’s inner curved wall, tucked away from the alleyway toward the neighboring lot, while the master bedroom gets its own private space at the back of the house with a view of a private garden.
“The choices for the wood were driven by the sustainability aspect of the materials: long-lasting and minimum maintenance,” Kwong adds. “We designed the interior with a more natural and neutral palette, using white oak for the flooring, the cladding of the trusses, and the window trim.”
But the beauty of this house does not solely lie in its interiors. The exterior communicates with its neighborhood by adopting a traditional vernacular that reflects the interior spaces.
“The design shifts the facade hierarchy from the street to the alleyway, the most urban of the contexts,” says Kwong. “The exterior design breaks the facade into three parts: the exposed concrete of the basement, the gray Accoya wood for the first half of the first level, and black on the top. The two tones - gray and black - emphasize the flipping of the traditional interior section of the home.”
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For more information about Kwong Von Glinow, visit: kwongvonglinow.com