Hidden Architecture: Buten House

Philadephia, PA. United States. 1962-1964

Architect: Louis Sauer

Although my friend David Buten wanted a townhouse in the center of Philadelphia's Center City, he did not have enough money. I found a 'trinity' property (3 floors 15 ft x 15 ft with a 15 ft back yard) and I convinced him to buy it along with the property behind it facing another street. Although my friend David Buten wanted one, he would have been able to pay for his mortgage.

house in downtown Philadelphia, he did not have enough money to afford it. He found a three-story property (4.5 meters x 4.5 meters plus a backyard of similar size) and managed to convince him to buy the property behind it, accessing the other street. I explained to him that he would design his house and a separate apartment on the adjacent property for rent and that he would be able to pay the mortgage.

under both houses to add another floor and added an extension into the back yards. David's house occupies 4 floors on the north side and the basement floor under both buildings with a courtyard between

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My project included a plant excavated beneath both house and added an extension of both houses in the courtyard. The house of David occupies 4 floors on the north side of the plot and the whole new basement dug with a courtyard in the center.

Louis Sauer b> - Louis Sauer explaining the Buten House project

The decision of David Buten and Louis Sauer to divide the project into two separate houses (one for rent and one for the client) is key in understanding their own functioning in the relationship between the two. To the main house, the home of Buten, is accessed from the Naudain Street through a small entrance hall that gives access to the stairs and a study room. If one decides to go down to the basement (main space), it is with the living room, double height, which opens to the patio garden. The exterior vegetation is continued in the interior through a large flower pot that is built on the ground itself. A narrow glass corridor opens into the dining room which is also open to the patio. On the other hand, the two bedrooms, located on the second and third floors, have a similar configuration, both of them opening onto the street and leaving the interior façade for the main bathroom (second floor) and terrace (third floor) p>

The smallest renting apartment has a standard configuration with a double height dining room on the first floor, a small study on the second floor and the master bedroom on the third floor. In this case, the whole apartment faces Rodman street, except for a balcony on the second floor. While the main dwelling is structured through the courtyard (both spatially and visually), the rental apartment turns its back onto it and opens onto the street. This configuration not only enhances the privacy of both homes but also gives a good orientation to both apartments and, therefore, a better sunlight.

  • Adam Floyd