U-Shaped Family Home U01
First, building B01 is a stand-alone two-bedroom house. This is suitable for a young couple with one or two small children, or for a couple working from home. It boasts a large mezzanine bedroom and an open-space feel, yet at the same time feels cozy. Some people might even give up building any extensions for a while.
As the children grow older and the family evolves, B03 can get built, as a weekend project, without disturbing the functioning of the main house. In addition to - or instead of – B03, the ADU (Auxiliary Dwelling Unit) can be built. Also, B03 can easily be converted into a studio as well, though it lacks enough sun exposure in this particular setting (see U-shaped Family home U02 project for possible solution).
Once B03 is finished, it is time to build the connectors. These are the elements that make this house complete. Now, there is a main house, two separate bedrooms for teenagers and a lounge area in between. The old bedroom can be converted into a home office, with its separate entrance. Garage on the west side, pergola to the north and passive greenhouse to the south come to embrace the whole. It is these connector spaces that take on the utilities infrastructure on their roofs, from water tanks to photovoltaic panels, though a utilities room is already located in the main building, with access from the garage. This way the two sloped roofs, slate-covered, can be left untouched.
If you plan on building the passive greenhouse, I strongly recommend you consider the other version of this plan, namely U02, in which the two main buildings are positioned at an angle to each other, so as to get the most sunlight. In this parallel setting, the greenhouse will not have enough direct sunlight in late winter to accommodate seedlings.
There's a range of possible materials. The thick parallel N-S walls can be built out of rammed earth, stone, brick, or even composite materials if you are careful about the joinery. The wooden panels and the all-around glass panels above should be made out of as insulated panels as possible. Bio-climatic design and heat masses can only do so much and if there is heat getting out of the house through every window pane, the overall energy consumption will be significant.
The Japanese look of this house resides in the 1,20mx2,40m Shoji-inspired grid of panel doors that is defining the whole layout.
The best position for this house is facing directly South. This way, the bedrooms are facing East and the garage is taking the heat away from the living room on hot summer afternoons. The street is towards the North and the garden South. You can rotate the plan slightly, say 15-20 degrees East and West of true South. You can also flip B1 on its E-W axis if you have South access. I recommend you buy the Full Package if you intend to make these types of modifications.
The foundations in this project are simple concrete foundations on contour. They can be replaced with a slab foundation or any other type of foundation that your contractor recommends for your particular context. A full geotechnical soil report is the only thing you can trust here.
These plans are designed for young families and their future family. But the layout is flexible enough that it can and should be able to adapt to more than one situation. Life changes and so do our needs in home space. The separation of "buildings" makes it easier to split uses and the clean grid is great for DIY changes. This is a house that can extent from a single unit to a big house family with a granny pad and two teenagers living under the same roof (well, almost). It might not be perfect for all cases, but it might be great for you.