Boxy Bridge is a two-story house built on a small urban lot in Fayetteville, Arkansas, adjacent to a 1950’s era fire station. The house is surrounded by a tightly woven eclectic mix of residential and commercial buildings each with their own unique design language. The diverse surroundings along with the dual nature of the program became an inspiration for the house’s name and for the nested, boxy nature which constitutes its formal character.
Boxy Bridge was built for a newly retired couple who love to cook and entertain. It was important for the client that the house was thoughtful regarding issues of aging in place but also allowed for opportunities to ascend from the densely packed urban environs and access free and clear views to the beautiful Boston Mountains to the south. In doing so the house takes on a split personality both in plan and section. In plan the house closes its envelope entirely to the adjacent fire station on its northern and western edges but opens in an exaggerated way to the street and the courtyard garden space on the south and east. In section, the house’s garden wall provides private living space at the first level where the surrounding context is most chaotic, while the second level and roof garden provide public and expansive views.
Boxy Bridge’s external form is composed of a series of wrapping and carved volumes derived from the nested character of the site’s diverse urban context. A stepped masonry/custom corrugated steel wall acts as a datum that divides the private living zone from the neighbors on the south side and creates the feeling of a courtyard typology. The north façade of the house is an abstracted play of two distinct undulating surfaces juxtaposed against the raw industrial face of the existing fire station. At the entry, the warm grey metal upper volume folds down around a two-story window to create a protected yet welcoming porch. Upon ascending a few steps on the east side, one has a visual connection to the rooftop garden space above the garage that the client uses for entertaining.
You enter a double height space and get a glimpse of the upstairs while the open plan living room and kitchen are entirely in view. Immediately upon entry you’re in a gallery positioned along the north wall. A few steps further into the house you become aware of the twenty-four feet of sliding glass doors that create an open and connected space to the courtyard. Due to its high southern wall, the courtyard acts the delimiting wall of the living and kitchen spaces and contains a hardscape patio as well as a productive lush garden. The client’s bedroom is located off a small hallway toward the west and has its own small patio and garden privatize by a wall that separates it from the main courtyard space; a way of diversifying spatial experience, making the most of a small lot. The interior maintains the dual nature of the house as both private and public, large and small, prospect and refuge.
The design of Boxy Bridge helps create the conditions for a life well-lived. Its private courtyard and living spaces allow the client to tuck themselves away from the adjacent busy, active urban environment. However, when the house is opened to its guests, and the sun retreats over the western horizon, a group of close friends can enjoy each other’s company on an expansive rooftop garden and courtyard while enjoying the life of downtown Fayetteville and the view to the mountains beyond.
Boxy Bridge is located in a relatively dense urban setting surrounded by an eclectic mix of residential, commercial, and institutional buildings including a fire station directly north. The house presents an open formal front on the east side.
Boxy Bridge's form was derived in part from its eclectic dense surroundings - abstracting and mimicking these forms to create a new unified whole.
The north facade of the project is a simple overlay of two material figures, a warm grey metal 'bridge' and a white metal wall that migrates around the boundary of the site.
As one enters the double height vestibule they have a glimpse toward the second floor living area and receive a full picture of the lower living and kitchen spaces. The north side is a long gallery space, while the south side is a glazed wall that opens to a courtyard space.
The courtyard and upper balcony space afford great space for entertaining and hanging out with friends.
A birch liner in the kitchen creates the feeling of a special, autonomous space within an otherwise neutral interior environment.
The courtyard space created by a masonry and custom perforated wall extend the living room and kitchen to the outdoors.
The courtyard space feels like an outdoor room. It is here and on the roof garden that the client can gather with friends.
The patio off of the larger bedroom is separated from the main courtyard space by a wall and porch cover. This creates a unique and new space off of their bedroom - a feeling of difference in a small site.