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Nexus House

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dmadsen, hanley wood, llc

Project Name

Nexus House

Project Status


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Project Description

AIA 2013 Small Project Awards winner in Category 2 Description: A small project construction, up to $1,500,000.


This compact home for a young family occupies a small site in a historic residential district in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. Successfully contesting the local preservation ordinance and its narrow interpretation of stylistic compatibility, the house is an unapologetically contemporary building, its formally restrained volume discreetly placed in the back of the trapezoidal site to minimize direct visual competition with its historic neighbors. The house is composed of two principal building blocks: a two-story brick podium partially embedded in the sloping site; and a linear cedar-clad meander that wraps up and over the podium before transforming into a cantilever, its overhang providing shade for the patio below. Steps lead up the slope to the front door, a glazed recess with a delicate steel canopy marking the vertical joint between the two building blocks. The door opens into a vestibule that leads into the main living hall, an open space whose neutral material palette is complemented by a troika of dark-stained wood objects spatially anchoring the open space: an entertainment center; a fireplace and chimney; and a wood canopy cradling an intimate side lounge, which can be closed off to transform into a guest bedroom or quiet study.
Jury Comments: This is absolutely beautiful. It is well detailed and not overwhelming. It fits fantastically into the surrounding neighborhood and doesn’t take away from the other architecture. As the name Nexus suggests, this house is very well connected. Composed of a brick podium and a wood clad block on top, it masterfully accomplishes a variety experiences in a compact footprint. It uses the site slope to present different viewpoints. Interesting indoor and outdoor spatial volumes emerge as a podium, an upper level, and a dark colored tower interrelate. Nexus rigorously integrates all it parts. It is so satisfying to see rational modern architecture rendered in warm tones. A standout due to its use of light and space. This house successfully organizes public and private spaces, and acknowledges the impact such an arrangement can have on life within. Beautiful, intimate areas for retreat and gathering are wrapped in a palette of honest and rich materials.
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