The FreeGreen contest may eventually have individual entries available for public viewing, even if they don’t make the cut for the semifinals and the public voting.  But, part of the point of doing this is to use the opportunity for publicity and to get public feedback about the design.  So I am going to post all nine images and the accompanying descriptions of the Italia9 (like Nigel Tufnel’s amp, it’s one more than an Italian8).

Being a plan house, it’s fairly generic and could be detailed to meet particular client desires.  For example, if it was bumped out another foot (or some space was reclaimed from the rather generous wide stair), it would be much easier to shift the Laundry room over adjacent to the half-bath, so that it was more out-of-the way.  The nook created by the stair also opens itself to a number of possibilities.

The program is for a new residence for a family of 4:  “They have given much thought (and time) to buying an existing home as Tim is a stickler for traditional or “normal” looking homes, but Linda (an avid Dwell reader), just can’t find a place that has the open floor plan and clean interiors that she desires. She feels that many traditional homes waste squarefootage on rooms and features her family will rarely use. Money spent on formal dining rooms and fireplaces could be better serve them on features they could use every day like a mudroom, more storage space, and possibly a homework nook. That said, Tim and Linda have finally agreed (partially to save their marrige) on finding a lot in their suburban\rural town and building a traditional looking home with interior spaces that will fit their contemporary lifestyle…”


This home is based on the Italianate style which was popular in the late 1800s.  However, inside the traditional Italianate style exterior is a contemporary interior with an open plan design.

The low roof and broad overhangs of the Italianate design provide good sun control, and the cupola helps with providing natural daylight as well as stack effect ventilation for natural cooling.

The home is designed for a narrow city lot.  (A 60′ x 120′ lot is illustrated here.)  The garage is kept detached from the house, separating the fumes and pollutants normally found there from the dwelling portion of the house.  A direct path from the mudroom at the back of the house to the garage keeps the vehicle storage convenient.

The patio space created between the house and garage provides shelter from winds as well as from much of the direct sun, making outdoor activities pleasant for more of the year.

The first floor

The Den is located at the front of the house, providing separation from the Great Room and allowing different gatherings for friends and family at the same time.  The stair is open to the kitchen with a direct connection to the cupola above, allowing natural daylight to fill the center of the home.  This also supports natural ventilation and cooling of the house in warm weather.

Built-in furnishings for a family center or homework area can be located in the niche created by the stair.  Alternatively, built-in banquette seating for the family can be located in this wonderful daylit space.

Utilities such as the Mudroom, Laundry Room, and additional storage are all located near the back door which leads directly to the garage, which is separated from the house to keep fumes and pollutants from getting into the home.

The Second floor

The home has two identically sized Bedrooms with a shared jack-and-jill bathroom, plus the Master Bedroom with a Master Bath and a walk-in closet.

The stair and landing will be illuminated with abundant natural light during daytime hours.  Additional daylight can be brought into all of the bedrooms with transom windows above the bedroom doors as well as narrow internal lites along the wall between the master Bedroom and the 2nd floor landing.  All bedrooms have windows on at least two walls to provide cross-ventilation and good views and lighting, as well.

The cupola has windows on all four sides which bring daylight in to the center of the house, providing abundant natural light throughout.  The open area around the stairwell allows daylight to illuminate the upper floor landing as well as the area around the stair in the Kitchen.

Ceiling fans in the cupola can also circulate warm air downward during cooler months.

The deep overhang of the cupola roof serves to shade it from high-angle summer sun while still allowing generous indirect light.  In wintertime, the low-angle sun can enter directly and will be reflected and diffused to provide light down into the core of the house.

In warm weather months, the remotely-operated awning windows on the east and west sides of the cupola can be opened to provide natural ventilation, using the stack effect to keep the house cool.  Nighttime flushing of hot air can be readily accomplished with this measure, making for a healthier indoor air quality, as well as requiring less mechanical cooling.