PARA-project inserts haffenden house between two suburban homes PARA-project inserts haffenden house between two suburban homes
feb 14, 2014

PARA-project inserts haffenden house between two suburban homes

PARA-project inserts haffenden house between two suburban homes
photo by nathan rader
all images © PARA-project




jon lott of new york-based practice PARA-project has designed a writing studio for two poets, located in a residential neighborhood of syracuse. referencing gianni pettena’s ice house from 1972, the white cuboid volume is inserted between two existing suburban homes. at ground level ‘haffenden house’ accommodates a garage/breezway before ascending to a library and writing space above. within the reading room at the uppermost level, a bowl-shaped division maximizes indirect light for the storey below. the studio uses a translucent silicon-impregnated fabric skin filling internal space with natural light, while at the rear of the property a hung fabric curtain offers privacy from neighboring buildings.

PARA-project haffenden house designboom
the building forms a writing studio for two poets

PARA-project haffenden house designboom
a tranquil area of relaxation at the second storey reading room

PARA-project haffenden house designboom
a bowl-shaped division maximizes indirect light for the storey below

PARA-project haffenden house designboom
a hung fabric curtain offers privacy from neighboring buildings
photo by nathan rader

PARA-project haffenden house designboom
the curtain can be drawn at night, providing additional seclusion
photo by nathan rader



project info:


project name: haffenden house
location: syracuse, new york, USA
client: private
architect: jon lott / PARA
project team: jon lott, hilary pinnington, paul kneeply
completed: 2014
project size: 1,125 sqf (104.5 sqm)
program: writing studio, reading room
materials: silicon-impregnated fiberglass, concrete, mirror, walnut, glass

  • Don’t worry about the neighbours. They’re fine with this.

    pushstick says:
  • I love this mostly because I am astonished that it was allowed to be built. It does not look like something most American cities of any size would approve for that context. There is hope for the future.

    ArchitectureRichmond says:
  • Hello, please can you advise the psm cost of your wonderful Haffendon House edifice?
    looks just what poets need! thank you

    susanne harford says:
  • Bravo, for your creative spirit! I good idea to shake up the neighborhoo.d….and share the light!

    Linda lee butler says:
  • There is only the width of the stairs between this building and the neighbouring house. Did the builder get a zoning variance to build this close? What of the people who live next door? Can they even open their door without bumping into this inserted building? What about their windows? Are they in shadow all day? How arrogant to force this into an established neighbourhood. And as for the curtain, allowing for ‘privacy’ so the residents can lounge in and around their pool, the white curtain and interior lights serve only to create shadowy figures, visible to the other neighbours. Lets hope that at least there are no young children living in that house.

    Judy says:
  • Love this house especially the whimsical windows in the front but I completely agree with Judy. How arrogant. How unmindful of anyone else but your self. How so like architects and their outrageously myopic understanding about how people live and relate in a neighborhood. This one locks itself up and says we are completely insular and shutting out any interaction with the neighbors- we don’t even have a porch where we might be seen.

    james Martin says:
  • @judy- this appears to be an addition to what normally would have been the garage of the abutting home. Notice the connection between the two homes in the first pic showing a shadowing second level connection and the photo depicting a snow covered connection with the compact car in the driveway. In the US, it’s known as a “granny flat” and is quite typical. The question would be fire rating between the two structures. Images suggest that there are no real windows between the two buildings which may mean that the wall separating the two is rated safe enough by code. As for the silhouettes of the hot tub users, that is a matter of subjectivity, and codes do not deal with that. I say “well played” to the designers.

    ian says:
  • Hi Judy and James–I think you forgot how it works with architects: they get paid by the landowner to design a building that the landowner then pays someone else to build…As to your belief that this building ignores the neighborhood by essentially turning its back on it. Well, in the first photo you will notice that it not only is very close to the neighboring house but an outside set of concrete steps is shared by the buildings. This leads me to believe the clients actually live next door in that charming and typical house! Does all this help your interpretation? Honestly, from experience, I believe the neighbors got a kick out of how the clients built a GARAGE and made it look really funny and cool.
    Me–I would add a front door, a kitchen and, if needed, a bathroom and live in what would then be a tiny home with a great book and movie shelf and be happy forever. This expanded garage is beautiful, unique, fun, simple and near perfect. BRAVO to the architects, the clients and the builder who figured out how to put those unique materials together.

    Daniel Morris says:

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