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From House on the Hill to House in the Hill

by Nena Perry-Brown

From House on the Hill to House in the Hill: Figure 1
Rendering of the planned house in the hill

While "house on the hill" usually refers to an aspirational or covetous home, talk doesn't usually center around what a pain it can be to actually get to a house like this.

A family in the DC neighborhood of Kent has long enjoyed their version of a house on the hill, a two-story home on Arizona Avenue NW; however, with three young children, the 154 steps from their street-level parking pad up to the house were becoming increasingly cumbersome.

From House on the Hill to House in the Hill: Figure 2
A rendering showing the walk to the existing house.

In 2013, the homeowners enlisted EL Studio to come up with a solution that would make the house more convenient and functional. After playing with the idea of expanding the existing house or shifting it down the hill, they decided to build a new house that would emerge out of the topography.

From House on the Hill to House in the Hill: Figure 3
Rendering of the planned house

"What we've done is brought the house down closer to the street, but in so doing, you have this kind of stepping terracing that embeds each level a little bit into the earth," explains Mark Lawrence of EL Studio. 

In the general area of the old parking pad, the new home will have a garage pushed into the hillside, creating an interior entrance that also provides a foundation for the rest of the house. The second floor then serves as the main living area and is stepped outward to maximize access to light and air; the back of this level and the garage level are both embedded in the hillside. The third floor has the bedrooms, an outdoor courtyard, and backyard access.

From House on the Hill to House in the Hill: Figure 4
Rendering of a side courtyard

Cut-outs along the hillside create outdoor courtyards on the second story. The back of the third story meets the site on level ground, creating a backyard area and allowing for the addition of an outdoor pool where the old house stood.

EL Studio hopes to apply for construction permits soon, enabling them to break ground in late summer or fall. 

See other articles related to: kent, el studio architecture

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/from-house-on-the-hill-to-house-in-the-hill/13556

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