HMFH Architects

Torroella House

This 1,800 square-foot house fits neatly into its densely packed neighborhood of gabled two- and three-family homes, and while respecting the very restrictive zoning requirements, provides a deceptively spacious interior for the architect/painter and his family. The conventional arrangement of public and private zones has been turned upside down. From the entrance, a visitor ascends the tower-like stair to the second floor where the living, dining and kitchen areas take advantage of the upper level for more daylight and interesting views. An angled wall at the top of the stair leads into the living room and creates an unbroken shaft of space running diagonally in the house’s longest dimension from the front corner of the living room to the rear corner of the dining room. This visual device, reinforced by the angled layout of the wood flooring, makes the interior appear larger than it actually is.

Adequate wall space to display the owner’s paintings was created by carefully placing windows and using built-in furniture to produce large, unbroken wall areas. The white walls, oak floors and natural light give the house the feeling of an expansive gallery.

The design of this single-family home is a nice solution to a difficult problem: Cambridge . . . In this case, the architect has
experimented with the elements of housing, even with the flip-flopping of the private space (now below) and the public space (now above) and succeeded . . . The success here is the architect's determination to look at what is actually contextual and to refresh it.

Jury CommentsBSA Housing Design Awards Program

On the outside, the house works hard at being ordinary. The exterior cladding is a combination of stained cedar shingles and beaded clapboards; the large front gable helps the house fit in with other gabled houses on the street. The windows, which are actually awning-type and hinged at the top, were designed to resemble traditional double-hung sash. A wisteria-draped wood trellis along the entrance walk, where neighbors asked that no trees be planted, provides privacy and announces the location of the main entrance.

View All Projects