project: McDermott Residence.
location: Crag Knob Road, Kirkwood, Missouri.
architect: Harris Armstrong.
contractor: Kuni-Jacobsmeyer, Clayton, Missouri.
The plan of this compact house is based upon Armstrong's concept for the Missouri Solar House, developed in the late 1940s. Along the north side of the house, the smaller more utilitarian spaces are arranged. These spaces have a limited amount of glazing to hellp protect the house from cold winter winds. Only the entry is highlighted with additional glazing and a small shed dormer opposing the main single slope of the roof.
The house opens toward the south with full glazing and taller walls. The roof cantilevers over the main living-dining room to protect it from the intense summer sun. The overhang is designed to keep out direct sunlight in the summer, but to admit sunlight in the winter (when the sun is lower in the sky) to provide passive solar warming of the interior. An additional benefit is brightening the interior of the house when it might be rather cold and forbidding outside.
The glazing also wraps the southeast corner of the room helping to further relate the interior space to the exterior views and sunlight. The portion of glass facing toward the east would admit light into the house in the morning when the residents would be having breakfast or otherwise inhabiting the western more public portion of the house. The exterior deck is partly protected by the roof overhang (see dashed line in floor plan above). The ground slopes down offering a view into the wooded terrain providing an additional rationale for the extensive use of glazing here.
For more on Armstrong's life and work, see architectural ruminations.
Photograph courtesy of the Harris Armstrong Archives, Special Collections, Washington University in Saint Louis.