Habitation Solutions
  • Jeff von Breitenfeld Denver Contemporary Home Architecture

“A Contemporary Home in Denver”, a speculatively built 1937 square foot new house, had to be designed to meet the needs of the real-estate market, keep construction costs low, and meet stringent zoning requirements.

The deep, rectangular shaped site fronts the street and backs up to an alley, where the double garage is located.  A welcoming entry that addresses the street features a covered porch.  The ‘L’-shaped plan of the house provides privacy to the back yard, screening the back yard from the neighbor on the north side.  The narrow portion of the ‘L’-shaped plan, located on the north side of the lot, opens the south side of the back yard to solar access.  The private master suite, located in the narrow portion of the ‘L’ at the back of the house, also receives solar access.  Clerestory windows provide sunlight/solar access to the great room, which includes living, dining, and kitchen spaces.  These spaces are located toward the front of the house.

This contemporary home borrows features from the mid-century modern house design style, a popular style in Denver.  These features include single-story design, low-pitched roofs, large windows, and open plans.  Modern materials like floor-to-ceiling windows, shiplap ceilings, and wide plank white oak flooring, are used to finish this open-plan house.  The great room has views to the street and to the back patio.  The great room also features a 16 foot high sloped, shed-roof volume ceiling, clerestory windows, ribbon fireplace, and TV viewing area.  Rooms without volume ceilings have at least nine-foot high ceilings.  All the major rooms in the house have south facing windows; this includes two secondary bedrooms.

The construction of the house incorporates three masonry walls and a floor slab from the previous house on the site.  The new construction employs wood frame walls and glu-lam beam roof structure. Exterior finishes feature brick, fiber-cement board siding, cedar fascia, shiplap cedar soffits, glu-lam beam ends, and privacy screens made of geometric concrete masonry unit.  For the most part, very standard construction techniques were used.  From an energy consumption standpoint, the house complies with the 2015 version of the Denver Energy Code (IECC).

The zoning requirements were challenging; site coverage, building setbacks, and bulk plane requirements were difficult to meet.  The house and garage covers 36.8% of the site; 37.5% coverage is allowed.  The house and garage are within inches of many of the construction setbacks.  A few portions of the roof-line are within inches of the bulk plane.

The builder was able to sell the house within one week of listing it at 10% over asking price.