Design Consultation . Santa Monica, California
$_SERVER[REQUEST_URI] = /projects/198701.php
sectionname() = Projects
pagename() = 198701
Darrows Cottage
Lakewood, PA
May 1987

Officially, Whitehead & Co. had not yet been formed, but this was the first project that the two partners collaborated on. The Darrows wanted a weekend house on a small lake in rural Pennsylvania. They hired Joel Whitehead, Robert's father, to build the house, and Colin and Robert designed it.

The house is two floors, thirty feet square, and is set into a hillside, which slopes towards the water. The lower floor has a garage-like space for a boat trailer and a family room. The facade which faces the lake is two stories high and almost entirely sliding doors and large windows. Keeping the upper floor fairly open, for typical weekend parties, and having the view of the lake visible even from the front door, were the most important goals in this design.

Since we were still in school, we were anxious to employ some of the skills we were spending long hours in the studio acquiring. We set a strict zone of circulation alongside the center line of the plan, perpendicular to the shoreline, setting up an a-b rhthym of bays into which we worked the major and minor spaces. We also designated a thick "utility" zone which helped place kitchen and bath. The facade toward the road had just two small windows, which meant that we had an entry sequence from the closed face to the cars, through the house to look out through the large open face to the water.

The most important thing we leaned on the project is that within the small budget, small town constraints of residential design we still had a tremendous freedom to address the problems we saw in the communities around us: uninspired design, copy cat decoration and cookie cutter plans.

The Darrows were so comfortable with the design that they had no hesitation in selling the house they were living in and moving into the `weekend' house full time.