situated in the suburbs of chicago, brooks + scarpa, in collaboration with studio dwell, present a dwelling wrapped almost entirely in brick.
the material, known locally as chicago ‘common’ brick, looks different from the typical red brick as a result of the geological composition of the indigenous lake michigan clay and the way in which it is fired. its discolorations and irregularities traditionally made these ‘common’ bricks unattractive, cheap, and found in places generally obscured from the street — such as side and back walls, chimney flues, and structural support behind façades.regardless of this historic undesirability, the chicago ‘common’ brick is featured as the most prominent material and design element. the street façade of ‘thayer brick house’ is organized in vertical twisting columns to create an ever-changing pattern of opening and closing as light moves across and through the façades. as the viewer passes the home, the façade generates an rhythmic, optic effect that appears to be in constant motion.
depending on one’s location, the porous courtyard façade courtyard can appear either open and welcoming or closed and private. this allows indirect daylight to filter into the building through the secondary glazed skin, and create a warm glow from within when illuminated at night. this daylight seeping through the brickwork produces a shifting geometric pattern of light and shadow along the interior walls and floors of the rooms which transforms throughout the day.
the project presents an examination of the tension between materiality, form, and experience. through the design of the thayer house the designers transcend traditional craft and elevate a humble material without sacrificing its inherent quality. the team comments: ‘it is an attempt to find and reveal the extraordinary from within the ordinary. this exploration encourages the user to forge a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the fundamental, yet delicate relationships that exist between themselves, the natural world, its vital resources, and our collective cultures.’
the team at brooks + scarpa elaborates: ‘by using the familiar in an unfamiliar location and application, the material becomes perceptually both old and new at the same time. this makes one more aware of not just the building, but also our sense of place. there is a sense of discovery, something spontaneous and unexpected. the object is important but it’s the experience that has a profound impact and leaves something that lasts well beyond the mere physical and visual existence of the building.’
title: thayer brick house
credit: brooks + scarpa with studio dwell
design architect: brooks + scarpa
location: thayer street, evanston, illinois
design team, brooks + scarpa: lawrence scarpa (lead designer/principal in charge), angela brooks, jeff huber, arty vartanyan, chinh nhan nguyen, cesar delgado, eleftheria stavridi, fui srivikorn, matt barnett
design team, studio dwell: mark peters (principal in charge) jonathan heckert (project manager)
landscape, lighting design: brooks + scarpa
structural engineering: louis shell structures
general contractor, civil engineering, electrical and lighting: studio dwell
photography: marty peters and brooks + scarpa