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Bruce Walkers Award Winning House Plan (1968)

Article taken from INSIDE TODAY'S HOME (1968, 3rd edition)

Bruce Walker's award winning design was based upon the following restrictions.

The enclosed area should not exceed 1,000 square feet because this is about as much as many families can afford, not because it is all the space even a small family needs. There were to be 3 bedrooms, and the house was to fit on a lot 60 by 100 feet. The sucess of Walker's design is indicated by the fact that within 4 weeks of winning the Magazine of Builders contest, 22 builders from coast to coast were negotiating with the designer for the privilege of building from his plan.

Let's look at the design in the light of what was said in earlier chapters about the requirements for group, private, and work activities, about design and color, about materials, and about the major elements of the house.

4 integrated areas give space for group living in Walker's plan: indoors, the all purpose space and conversation alcove: outdoors, the terrace and screened porch. Moderately quiet, small-group conversation or reading is provided for in the living space by an alcove about 8 by 10 feet, a good size and shape for from 2 to 5 persons, with a sofa and end tables against a sold wall, storage built in under the windows, 2 movable chairs, and a fireplace (backed up against the heater room so that only 1 chimney is needed).

South light comes from a row of windows high enough above the floor to give usable wall space underneath and a feeling of enclosure, but low enough so that a seated person can see outdoors. Although no walls separate the conversation area from the all-purpose space, it is differentiated by being a dead-end alcove narrower than the rest of the room, by windows that are higher than those overlooking the terrace, by the different floor treatment, and by the ceiling, which changes direction along the line demarking the 2 areas. It is a retreat that gives a feeling of permanence and enclosure without becoming boxy, and it can also become the stabilizing element of a much larger furniture group.

Although the conversation area is only a few steps from the front door, the kitchen, and the terrace, it maintains its identity in plan alone, but its separarateness could be underscored by furnishings. This is the logical place for the "best" furniture: a comfortable handsome sofa and chair; a soft rug; and paintings or prints, wall sculpture or fabrics of special interest to the family. Especially in a small house, it would be wise to use colors that carry though from one space to the others, but these need not be monotonously repetitious. Warmer hues, stronger intensities, and lower values enlivened with sparking contrasts would emphasize the enclosure and importance of this alcove.

Music could be centered in either or both of 2 locations. The cabinets under the windows in the conversation area could house a radio-phonograph and the long wall in the all purpose space could accommodate a radio, phonograph, television, or a piano. The sloping ceiling and the complex shape of this whole space would give good acoustics. Games of a quiet sort could be played at the dining table or on a card table placed where wanted.

Eating would normally and most conveniently take place at the table near the kitchen, where there is adequate space for service and also for extending the table for celebrations. For variety, it would be easy to move the table over to the windows; television suppers might be enjoyed in the conversation area in chairs grouped around the receiver. The screened porch, the terrace, and the lawn, all easily accessible, provide more comfortable and varied outdoor eating spots than in many house twice this size but less well palnned.

Small children's activities could be centered in the 2 bedrooms that can be joined by pushing back the folding wall, but they would also be easily supervised in the all purpose space, terrace, porch, and yard.

At this point, a few thoughts about the materials and furnishings of the all purpsose area are in order, because they, along with the room's size and shape, affect its pleasantness and maintenance., Notice that the architect has indicated a tile floor that could be of such durable, easily kept materials as vinyl, linoleum, or asphalt. Using the same flooring in the entrance and kitchen unifies the three areas, makes them seem larger. Walls, too, should withstand use. Wood comes to mind, although hard surfaced wallboards or tough and washable wallpaper or fabric would be suitable. The two fixed units of furniture, built-in or assembled from interchangeable units put tight against the wall, could include cupboard, drawer, and shelf space, desk and television, or whatever the family wanted. Furniture that is durable, easy to move, and light in design and color would preserve the room's openness and usability.

In summary, varied kinds of indoor and outdoor group-living spaces have been integrated to give usable and visual space far beyond that found in most houses this small. Large groups could spread from the all-purpose space to the terrace, porch, or lawn because all are interconnected and uncluttered. Terrace and porch more than double the living space in good weather. Moreover, these areas have been handsomely related to space for work and for private living.

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