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A new house in Atlanta raises the possibilities for roof-oriented design

June 13, 2019

Yale’s new display Adjacencies showcases models of Jennifer Bonner’s Haus Gables, an unusual domestic project under construction in Atlanta.
A new display at the Yale School of Architecture, Adjacencies uses a multi-media approach to tell the story of assorted strange and tactile tasks from 14 emerging firms around the nation, and the show highlights a one-of-a-kind, ground-up residential roofing project that’s arranged to open in Atlanta later this autumn. Haus Gables, designed by Jennifer Bonner of MALL, is a single-family home under construction along the Atlanta Beltline and a playful and surprising reinvestigation of the architectural zeitgeist utilizing an exaggerated roof plan. The dwelling is broken down in detail at Yale by using a series of vibrant models, drawings, and ephemera that unveil her design philosophy for this influenced and irregular building.

According to the architect, the project had been inspired by Le Corbusier’s free plan and Adolf Loos’s raumplan — both domestic design techniques that called for non-traditional interior spacing. Bonner’s objective was to “rework the spatial paradigms of the past” by arranging her design entirely around the roof. She designed Haus Gables, a 2,100-square-foot structure, with six gable roofs that form 1 extended canopy. The distinctive shapes of the resulting ceilings developed an interior occupied with oddly-sized rooms, catwalks, and double-height spaces that are restricted to the steep ridges of the inclined roofs.

The idea for Haus Gables created out of a 2014 program she taught at Georgia Tech School of Architecture, according to an interview with Curbed Atlanta. Bonner worked with students to envision designs centered around individual architecture components. This particular exercise led Bonner to create her large Domestic Hats exhibition for Atlanta’s Goat Farm Arts Center, for that she learned Atlanta’s various roof typologies and developed sixteen models with alternative roof types that pushed conventional residential design.

While Adjacencies provides a behind-the-scenes look at exactly how Bonner specifically conceived the Haus Gables project, the real-life version is nearly complete on an eighteen foot-wide plot of land in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward. Not only is the design itself uncommon, but so are the materials designated for the project. Most remarkably, it highlights a cross laminated timber (CLT) framework, the 2nd of its kind in the United States, as well as prefabricated elements which were rapidly put together on site over the past year.