John Ronan Architect - Poured Concrete Townhouse in Chicago Print
Thursday, 30 April 2009 01:54


This house for a family of five explores spatial gradation from communal to private, in an urban domestic condition: children’s bedrooms on the third floor lead to a collective play space for the three children, which is connected to the communal family spaces on the ground floor via a stair, skylight and aluminum screen.

The skylight serves to bring light into the center of the home; the screen acts simultaneously as guardrail and light filter.  


The owner desired an open free-flowing interior space with a strong relationship to the exterior.  The main floor of the house is planned with a more formal entry/living room zone to the street, and a more casual kitchen/dining space to the rear, connected to a hardscape exterior courtyard accessed via sliding glass panels.  The courtyard is conceived as an outdoor living room, complete with fireplace--a stair leads from the courtyard to a deck over the garage, which in turn looks down over the courtyard. 

The facade projects an image of openness and optimism for a family committed to city living, and allows views from the public rooms of the house to the street.  A limestone plinth and entry portal terminates in a platform inside, from which the walnut stair departs.

Material Investigation
Exterior structural walls are of board formed concrete.  Using the imperfections inherent in concrete and its forming as a starting point for investigation, numerous mock ups and studies were attempted.  The resulting surface was the result of forming with random sized boards, with varying moisture contents, to imprint the concrete and impart a subtle light and dark pattern to the surface, disguising defects in craftsmanship and the inevitable effects of Chicago’s harsh winters.
Ronan_Concrete_House_11.jpg Photographs courtesy of Hedrich Blessing

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Last Updated on Thursday, 06 May 2010 09:21