In a world and time that is obsessed with “big-bigger-biggest-and bigger than biggest” architect Rick Phillips has redefined the trend in modern housing with his Tower House in Chicago. In an effort to prove that size really doesn’t matter and it’s the attitude that counts, this house that looks like a stack of cards from a distance was meant to be “an exercise in something small.”
The Tower House was designed by Rick Phillips during his bachelor days. The small triangular plot on which it stands was bought in 1996. On a whim and unable to resist the low prices, Phillips picked up the adjacent plot as well, hoping to build a more serious house next door. The layout for the Tower House takes inspiration from a Paris apartment his friend lives in. Apparently, this sort of design in quite commonplace in Paris. However in Chicago, “the land of steel and Mies” this house is unconventional and atypical.
Phillip’s objective, when designing the Tower House, was to maintain simplicity in form without taking away from the function at all. Therefore, not only does the house offer great views it is also extremely energy efficient. By stacking up all the living spaces in the house one on top of the other, Phillips has been able to create 1,152 square feet of a home in a tiny .038 acre site. No compromise on space and amenities and yet, a very modest footprint.
Tucked underneath the house in the parking lot and a 10 x 10 stairway chase provides access to the living quarters in the house. On the second floor are the bedrooms while the third floor has the living room with a European-style kitchen complete with under counter refrigerator, two-burner cook top, and dishwasher. Right at the top is the deck that has a retractable sunscreen which cools the interiors and the deck on hot days.
Thanks to the awning windows and the stack effect of the house, it benefits from natural ventilation and a cool breeze during summers. The glass wall on the third floor gives an illusion of space, great views of the city and during winters it lets in the warm sunlight. It is no wonder that this unusual yet brilliant design has attracted a slew of awards
With the success of this project, Phillips has been able to send out a loud and clear message to everyone: Bigger needn’t always be better!