Tall and Narrow House

Sustainable House by Buildsense

November, 18, 2008, by Rusty

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Local design / build firm, Buildsense Inc was recently featured on HGTV’s Beyond the Box. The Program focuses on houses that utilize inexpensive materials in innovative ways to create unique, well-designed dwellings, without compromising on quality. The episode will next air in mid-December, more information on dates and times available on HGTV Website.

This sleek, modern house is located on a tight lot within a post World War II neighborhood in Durham. Taking cues from its deep lot, the living spaces are framed by parallel planes running north-south. The design takes a sharp departure, in both material and massing, from the surrounding wood clad and brick cottages. Side walls, clad in corrugated metal, are lit with function-driven punctures that frame views while allowing for cross ventilation. Both the corrugated metal and the fiber cement siding are installed utilizing a rain screen system which allows for greater durability and a more efficient thermal envelope.

Shamlin 1Shamlin 2Shamlin 3Shamlin 4

Initially designed as a pre-fabricated modular structure, the final product was built using panelized wood construction. Open-cell foam insulation in 2x6 exterior wall framing make for a much higher R-value than typical wood construction. Lots of south-facing windows flood the main living area with natural light, while a deep cantilevered roof overhang keeps the space cool throughout the summer. High performance windows and doors combined with a high SEER, high velocity heat pump result in an energy sipping building.

Shamlin 5Shamlin 6Shamlin 7Shamlin 8

Interior finishes compliment the low maintenance industrial exterior, while bringing warmth to the living spaces. Continuous bamboo floors highlight the open floor plan and are made from a rapidly renewable natural resource. Dark cherry cabinets and concrete countertops in the kitchen create a functional, clean cooking space. A centralized utility core serves a dual purpose: making the open floor plan possible and clustering plumbing lines for a cost savings.

Shamlin 9Shamlin ElevsShamlin PlansShamlin Site

The end result is a clean, ecologically sound building that sits comfortably within its neighborhood context, without necessarily fitting in… While the neighbors are likely adjusting to the aesthetics, at just over 2000 square feet of conditioned space, this building is a far cry from the formulaic tear-downs popping up all over the triangle.

Buildsense is owned and operated by Randall Lanou. Randy is a Adjunct Associate professor at NC State’s College of Design and a local advocate for green building.




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  • Seann
    11/18 09:12 PM

    Does this remind anybody else of the Beetlejuice house?

  • Micah
    11/19 12:00 AM

    I love the inside.  The outside looks like a shipping container with a porch.

  • TheCatalyst
    11/19 12:25 PM

    Very cool! Thanks for bringing this to us.

    I would love to know what it retails for!

    What is an R rating?

  • Rusty
    11/19 12:37 PM

    The R-value of a building assembly is a measure of thermal resistance. Basically the higher the number, the more effective the insulation.

  • elizabeth bradford
    11/19 08:06 PM

    this house is gorgeous.

  • CJT
    11/21 10:35 AM

    ‘Very refreshing to see something like this.  Most of what we see is modern for the sake of being modern.  This is a concise and balanced structure.  Great Stuff!


  • David
    03/02 02:01 PM

    Hi.  This is my house. It is not haunted (re: the Beetlejuice reference.) If it were a shipping container, it would be a big one. :-)

    05/30 11:33 PM


    05/04 01:13 PM

    Wow! Nice topics, I am looking this type of topics. But I need more informations. I know a New Drafting CAD Site gives away over 100 House plans for free.

  • Natasha Swingfield
    09/11 06:00 PM

    It is very interesting for me to read the article. Thank author for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read more on that blog soon. BTW, rather good design you have here, but don?t you think design should be changed every few months?

    Natasha Swingfield
    review escorts

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