Tucked discreetly into a small Chicago block, this rear addition addresses the coexistence of two primary design criteria - integration and detachment. Integration drove the ground level, where an existing masonry, dark, pool room and a cluttered exterior courtyard were opened-up and then stitched back together to produce one contiguous interior/exterior space. By introducing new full height exterior glass walls for the pools enclosure and placing diagonal steel structure on the outside of the building envelope we were able to achieve a sense of expansiveness within. Now, natural light is able to pour in at all times of the day and the owners can take advantage of the newly renovated landscape. Appearing to hover above, the broad cantilever ceiling plane not only add to the visual extension of the room, but also serves as a desired covered walkway between the house and the open rear yard beyond.
Atop the pool, a mixed-use upper floor is formed. A stepped garden links the upper level of the existing home to the lower landing level of the rear stair. From this newly created exit door, a translucent passageway leads to a detached office space. Sitting perched on a plinth clad in Brazilian Ash (Garapa) the work space is wrapped in standing seam zinc panels with full height glass walls defining the other 3 sides. While seated at his desk like a captain of his ship the connection to the outside is unobstructed. The neighborhood appears to be brought inside with vegetables and flowering plants cloaking the periphery. Light and air fully permeates the space and with a few extensions of the exterior materials being pulled inside, the office area accomplishes a greater sense of visual expansion. The methods used to integrate this unique program within the constraint parameters of city lot resulted in new areas for gardening and refuge that were not possible to have before.