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Zero Cottage

David Baker Architects

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  • David Baker

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1,142 sq. feet


Design Awards

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Project Description

The opportunity to research, design and test ideas was the impetus for this project. The integration of the practical and beautiful was central to the design. It was an undertaking rooted in the culture and spirit of my practice and our home. The cottage is reached through a historic carriageway. A mural runs the length of the passage, which opens to a courtyard and the cottage beyond. The mural preceded the cottage’s construction, yet both were envisioned as part of a larger narrative of “place” and our city’s hidden urban fabric. The simple form of the three-level cottage streamlined construction and maximized the flexibility of interior spaces. It lends the building an unexpected boldness on this largely residential block, and creates a moment of surprise as one emerges from the passage. The ground-level workshop opens fully to the courtyard. It serves my practice a fabrication facility and provides an idyllic place to spend a Saturday afternoon making things. Above, the open, efficient two-level cottage includes a compact kitchen and customized desk area. Slender windows are located to allow in natural light and to frame views without compromising privacy. The cottage celebrates the spirit of reuse. Framing members from an existing structure became custom cabinetry. Unsanded salvaged factory flooring was used for floors and charred to become blackened siding, a beautiful finish that is durable and maintenance free. For the rainscreen, metal shingles—many cut from scrap—easily slide into a clip system we designed, prototyped, and manufactured. Metal and mirrored glass reflect the main house and cast a play of light across the courtyard. Playful planter-box shingles can migrate with the seasons. The finishes reflect an embrace of wabi sabi and the belief that the natural aging of authentic materials enhances our human connection with a place and time.
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