link to Wesley Architects website
The Spite House Northern Lierties
to other "spite houses," the townhouse in Northern Liberties is built
on a tiny, narrow and oddly shaped - almost unbuildable vacant
corner lot in the Northern Liberties (NoLib) section of Philadelphia.
The NoLib Spite House doesn't quite follow the rules of its urban
context, but rather seeks to recover them through a revelation of
ordinary conditions. The house was influenced by the writings of Stanley Rosen especially The Elusiveness of the Ordinary, 2002.
form of the building responds precisely - but not literally - to a
series of specific conditions in the urban context, i.e. extending a
street wall, establishing a corner and stepping to adjust to
surrounding building heights. The primary architectural element of the
building is a brick wall with windows and doors; but in contrast to the
red brick front facades on the surrounding buildings, the brick
of the Spite House is a smoke-stained dark gray color and the wall
folds around the corners to wrap all three sides of the building.
Although the folded brick wall is not parallel to the sidewalk or the
property lines, the two street walls of the corner are held (more or
less) along the perimeter.
the surrounding buildings the Spite House has secondary elements that
contrast with the brick wall. Unlike the painted wood and aluminum
siding used on the secondary elements of the surrounding buildings,
these elements are zinc. Like those on the surrounding buildings
these secondary elements act to provide a meaningful articulation with
regard to the legibility of the urban context, e.g. marking an public
corner and a private entrance. Although at first glance the Spite
House doesn't appear to be a ?good neighbor,? the
bending of the brick wall along with the bumping of the secondary zinc
elements provides a sense of belonging to a specific urban
interior of the house was developed around a vertical journey
culminating on a roof deck with an upper-level green roof. The
journey begins on the sidewalk by crossing a stone threshold and
stepping up onto a vestibule. The vestibule is positioned on the middle
level of an interior topography. One steps down from the vestibule into
a sunken living room or up into a raised dining room and kitchen.
From the vestibule one ascends the stairs on a vertical journey that
passes through the bedroom levels and ends by breaking the roof with
skylights, a roof deck and green roof.
geometry of the exterior of the Spite House is resolved spatially on
the interior in a manner that creates rooms of appropriate definition
(with regard to shape and size) and specific outlook. Rooms are
seen as opportunities to occupy positions within the house in relation
to the surrounding city. Each room is defined by the bending of the
exterior wall and the bumping of the secondary elements. These exterior
elements are inhabited on the interior as the narrative of the vertical
journey unfolds and the intimacy gradient of dwelling is revealed.