Tandem House 2

After living in Tandem House 1 (the back house) for two years we’re ready to fulfill our vision of designing and building two green homes, one behind the other on a single Denver zone lot. We embarked on this journey four years ago with the intention to defy Denver’s residential building standard, to show that a two-unit lot in Denver doesn’t have to be a side-by-side attached duplex, or a less than maximized single-family-home (SFH) with an ADU behind. We set out to prove that there is a more desirable residential model that respects the historic design character of a neighborhood while capturing the wants and needs of an urban dweller. Some of the greatest benefits of our Tandem House model is maximum lot coverage and square footage as both SFH’s will be over 2300sf, each with 4beds and 3.5baths, their own garage space, private outdoor space and most importantly they are detached. Because who wants to share a wall with their neighbors?!

We believe that this modern urban way of living doesn’t have to be a detriment to the historic character of our Denver neighborhood. Tandem House 1 is clearly a contemporary piece of architecture which was very intentional. Scott and I feel most comfortable living in a simple, clean line, contemporary space that we could design to our hearts’ desire in the back of our lot. By building in the back, we didn’t change the existing character, aesthetic or residential feel of our neighborhood. As architects we want to design and build every project with intention and therefore never replicate the same design or development model over and over. Each one of our projects will always be unique and acknowledge it’s context even when the homes are in tandem and on the same lot.

With clearly defined intentions, we drew inspiration for Tandem House 2 from the late 1800s and early 1900’s era Denver Square architecture. Our Highlands neighborhood is sprinkled with this residential building form that we just love for its simplicity and charm. According to the CU Denver News article that defines a Denver Square, the house is charactarized by:

  1. A square box shape
  2. Hipped roof
  3. Wide porch
  4. Quiet Style
  5. Centrally placed front door

Below are examples of old and new Denver Squares in our neighborhood in which we drew inspiration.

Historically the building form was beneficial to narrower city lots as the simple 4 sides, two stories and 30 foot width allows for maximum use of the available land that is consistent with our efficiency of space development model. The form allows us to keep our existing house footprint (~30 foot width) and basement. Instead of building out we will build up by raising the first floor for higher ceilings in the basement and add a second story to the current 1-story home.

Demolition will be a careful process as we plan to save and re-use the existing brick fa├žade. If you remember, Scott and I meticulously demoed our old 1-car garage (see Demo Part 1); cleaning and stacking every brick (prior to having kids!). We’ve stored and moved those salvaged bricks three times and we’re finally ready to use them for their final intended use!

We submitted our permit drawings to the City of Denver last month and just received their comments. We plan to respond within the week and re-submit with the goal to start demo in April which isn’t aggressive at all since we are due with our second kid on April 4th (sense the sarcasm)! We had our daughter when we were building Tandem House 1 and will now have our son as Tandem House 2 commences. We plan our builds around maternity leave!