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Pfanner House Chicago : Architecture

Residential Chicago Building – design by Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design, Illinois, USA

page updated Aug 20, 2016; Apr 20, 2010

Pfanner House


Design: Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design

Chicago / Zoning Ordinance and Building Code / Neighborhood

Chicago is a gridded city mostly regulated through it’s zoning ordinance, which divides city lots according to permitted uses, maximum permissible building heights and required yard regulations. The typical residential building is placed in the middle of the lot with its required front, back and side yards and enclosed with a fence. As a result the space between adjacent buildings (their combined side yard) is usually a tight and poorly defined space, back yards are small spaces trapped between the garage and house, and the front yard is used mainly as a spacer, enclosed by a fence, between the building and the street. This house is built on an undersized Chicago lot of 24.5′ x 79′ (compared to the standard Chicago lot of 25′ x 125′) zoned R5 which means that the built floor area could be 2.2 x the lot area. The house has 3000 sq. ft. including garage and exterior spaces, which is about 2/3 of its allowable building area.

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The house suggests a way of urbanizing residential planning in Chicago. It is placed on a corner lot in a way that articulates yards spaces around it. There is no fence around the lot, so it is possible to walk through the site. The side yard is wide enough to form a well defined space between the two buildings and to plant 4 cottonwood trees, which will provide shade and privacy to the south side windows. The back yard is used as a garden, but it is also a potential site for a new building which could utilize the remaining allowable built area. The other means of urbanizing this lot are by opening the interior of the house to the street through its balconies, terraces and windows.

The building’s section was influenced by the building code, which allows a single-family home of no more than two stories to have only one stairway, and to be wood frame construction. The code defines the basement as habitable space of more that 50% at level more than 4′ below ground. Therefore, the whole area of garage, studio, its mezzanine and stairs counts as basement floor, and the building is only two stories high.

The house is clad in orange brick, the same color as most of the buildings surrounding it. In this way the main difference between it and the other buildings–its degree of its openness–is understood more easily.

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Construction Systems / Sustainable Features / Schedule / Cost

House is constructed with wood frame wall composition with high insulation value. Heating is radiant floor heating. Air-conditioning use is reduced by using cross ventilation and living in open air spaces.

It took us one year to find a land, one year to design, one year to bid, and one year to construct it. Its cost is $183.00 / sqft.

Our house is the house of pleasure of being alive there and then. The terrace is the main space of pleasure. The bodily pleasure, social pleasure, pleasures with passage of time, pleasure with air, sun and trees. The kitchen counter and the balcony and the bathrooms are the places of pleasure of daily activity. At the exits from the house, entrances, balcony extension, terrace and the bedroom extension are the places of daily pleasure of being with the house.

There is no distinction of treatment of men and woman in our house, but there is an intention of providing a clean, non-burdened and non-dampened place for an encounter.

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Pfanner House – Building Information

Location: 1737 West Ohio Street, Chicago, IL, 60622
Duration of the project: concept 1997 – completed 2002
Architect: Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design
Client: Peter Pfanner and Zoka Zola
Structural engineer: Hutter Trankina Engineering
Photographers: Roland Halbe ; Doug Fogelson / DRF
Lot area: 24’ – 6” x 79’ – 0”
Building footprint: 18’ – 0” x 56’ – 0”
Building gross area: 3 000 sqft
Total construction cost: $ 525,000.00

Pfanner House Pfanner House Chicago

Pfanner House : AIA Architecture Honor Award winner 2009

Pfanner House Chicago images / information from Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design


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