In many areas throughout Washington DC, mixed use/commercial zoning districts are adjacent to residential districts, creating large disparities in scale at their borderline, often between one side of the street and another, or between a corner and the rest of the block.
Following on my previous post regarding design strategies for pop-up additions to traditional row houses, I would like to share some early images of a new project on the boards that is, to say the least, the Mother of all Pop-Ups. It happens to be in a mixed use district, which allows much larger buildings than the single family traditional row dwellings that currently existing along that block. With that in mind, we are approaching the design our our 12 unit building as a prototype that could potentially be repeated down the block, or at least a portion of it, creating a larger scale version of the rhythm that exists along traditional blocks of row dwellings throughout the city.
While our proposed building by itself towers over its neighbors, when repeated as module it becomes a playful reinterpretation of the smaller traditional blocks or row dwellings surrounding it, and can act as an effective bridge between the scale of the row dwellings and that of nearby commercial buildings.
As we all know, many traditional row house blocks were designed as repeating modules, and were often built as blocks at one time, not individual buildings, resulting in beautiful rhythmic streets.
Of course, designing prototypes that work well as a larger group and allow for the creation of more (much needed) dwelling units without sticking out like a sore thumb sounds great from a planning stand point, but given that each row dwelling is owned by a different family, it is not the most realistic approach. But who knows? Hopefully at least one of the neighboring buildings will go up for sale one of these days…