Architecture Focus on a single-family detached home: definition and characteristics with a BIM project example ready for download, floor plans and area views inspired by Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House
Here’s another article from our Architecture Focus dedicated to one more residential building type: the single-family detached home.
In the previous insights we have analyzed townhouses, social housing and row houses.
In this article we will describe famous projects of single-family detached homes with relating definition, characteristics and main architectural aspects. You will have the possibility to download the project drawings and 3D BIM models and even browse the project online.
We will start off outlying one of the most fascinating and important single-family detached homes: Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra.
Download the Kaufman House 3D BIM model
Below you can download or browse the 3D BIM model inspired to Neutra’s project.
Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House
“a light architecture laying on a desert ground”
Single-family detached home: definition
The single-family detached home is a type of building with an independent entrance, generally equipped with a garden, and intended as a single dwelling unit.
It is a frequent construction type in areas with low denisty urbanization, therefore, built on large plots of land.
As a matter of fact, a single-family detached home implies a considerable use of land, pipelines construction works, high production and maintenance costs.
A single-family home can be either a detached or a semi-detached dwelling. A detached home is typically a stand-alone, one-family residence, while a semi-detached house is built as one of a pair sharing one common wall.
Examples of a single-family deatched home are:
- Isolated homes
- Twin houses
- Court houses (o with patio)
Let’s take a closer look at the isolated single-family detached home typology.
Single-family detached home: characteristics
The isolated single-family home can be built on one or more levels with either a basement or underground garage/ service room.
This type of residence requires considerable development of roads and pipelines for services.
Some of its main features are:
- vertical use of spaces
- openings are on four sides: consequently the living spaces can be arranged with more freedom of choice.
- generally, night areas are south-east oriented, while living areas are north-west oriented.
Historically, the isolated single-family building can be considered as the first form of urban dwelling. At the beginning it consisted of a small-sized single room and, subsequently, it was transformed into a multi-storey building, a sort of forerunner of terraced houses and row houses.
The isolated single-family detached home can be interpreted in multiple planning solutions according to the lot dimensions and the client’s financial resources.
A widespread solution is the semi-detached home annexing two units in a single structure, generally a duplex, that is two on two floors connected by an internal staircase.
Single-family detached home: the architectural evolution
The idea of a single-family home transformed with the urbanization following the industrial revolution and the development of new home concepts by the bourgeois classes. It derives, in any case, from models of the past and represents an evolution of villas and country houses.
The most representative examples are expressed by the Modern Movement. The “prairie houses” by Frank Lloyd Wright, for instance, even though criticized by Le Corbusier, tried to overcome this concept with the Unitè d’Habitation.
Even today it still identifies the type of residence mostly strived for due to its many advantages. A single detached home offers a certain degree of independence and privacy and has private yards, which owners can use and landscape as desired.
In Europe it is particularly common in the Nordic countries, as a result of special urbanistic programs, that have developed along with the rationalist architecture.
Single-family detached home: architecture
When the floor plan of a single-family detached home is distributed on a single floor, the living room constitutes the central elements around which the other spaces develop. In this case, the night area with relative bathroom and the kitchen with the service rooms, on the other side, are not affected.
In a two-storey building, on the contrary, the night area is located on the upper floor and by an internal staircase it is connected to the ground floor, where the living room and the kitchen are located.
Another solution presents the living room at a double heigth, services on the lower floors and night area on the upper floors.
The most significant examples of this type of building belong to the most fervid period of rationalism and are the work of great architects.
A single-family detached home project: Kaufmann House
“A silvery diaphanous airplane landed on a green carpet”
Kaufmann House by architect Richard Neutra represents one of the most iconic examples of architecture and the apotheosis of Modernism’s International Style.
Richard Neutra is universally considered one of the most important modernist architect. He was commissioned more than 300 projects between 1925 and 1950, but his fame is indissolubly linked to his residential interventions in southern California.
Born in Wien, he studied under Adolf Loos at the Vienna University of Technology and continued to mingle with the biggest stars of architectural society , such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf Schindler and Robert Evans Alexander.
Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California, is definitely Richard Neutra’s most emblematic work.
Completed in 1950, the Kaufmann House (or Desert House) was intended as a retreat for Edgar J. Kaufmann and his family during the cold winters of North-east America. The same Kaufmann had commissioned Fallingwater (a house partly built on a waterfall) to Frank Lloyd Wright a decade before.
This superb residence on two floors has many distinctive elements of modern architecture, such as:
- a flat roof
- a light facade
- shady external spaces, ideal for the dry Californian desert climate.
The house is primarily east-west oriented, taking great advantage of the sunrise and sunset light.
It has spaces characterized by silver horizontal planes, vertical glass and stone floors that make the building extremely light on the arid desert land.
The only vertical key element is the chimney on the so-called “Gloriette”
The house layout consists of five bedrooms and five bathrooms, with a courtyard with grass and a swimming pool with San Jacinto mountains view on the west side.
Slatted metal walls are a peculiar element that connect the interiors to external environments, with the typical big boulders, cactus, palms and sand gardens.
Large sliding glass doors open onto the patios. This solution allows the rooms to be shaded and cooled during extreme hot weather and closed during sandstorms.
The house has a cross-shaped floor plan, with a square body and a dining room in the middle, and wings extending to the four cardinal directions. On the west side there are the kitchen and service rooms, which are accessed by a covered breezeway, while the main bedroom is located on the east. The south wing includes two covered walkways separated by a huge stone wall, while another open path leads north from a patio to a couple of guest bedrooms.
The harmony between the spaces and the surrounding nature of the Kaufmann House recalls the concept of organic architecture intensely developed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This is an approach where all the design elements, the building itself and its furnishings, generate a composition able to dialogue almost spontaneously with the landscape all around.
The floor plan thus designed by Neutra is planned to catch most of the day light and the most ventilation possible.
Balance, independence and landscape are the main features of the whole project.
On the other side, the swimming pool is one of the most iconic and recognizable elements of the house. In fact, it is not just a valuable aesthetic element, but it also responds to a precise compositional balance design.
The building and the landscape appear as a single element. Hence the denial of the limit between the interior and exterior spaces.
Kaufmann House was renovated during the mid 90’s by U.S. architects Marmol and Radziner after heavy alterations and changes. Radziner to describe this fascinating architecture quoted:
“On the day we demolished all the posthumous additions, nothing remained except a beautiful skeleton”.