Residence at Evergreen Gardens by Drew Mandel Design

  • Rhonda

    This is a great house. I really like the way the architect used the trees to define the outdoor space. I had never thought that about that. I makes the backyard more a part of the house.

  • John Brown

    The use of trees to define space is a long standing idea in architecture and landscape architecture. In cookie cutter homes trees and other vegetation are more often just sprinkled over the site like parsley on a dinner plate. If the trees have a low canopy then they will read like a wall. If they have a higher canopy they will read more like a row of columns or colonnade, providing both a degree of spatial containment without entirely obstructing the view.

  • Uno

    I like the entry in this house but is that a ramp beside the stair leading up to the kitchen? Why would they do this?

  • John Brown

    Good eye. That is indeed a ramp – something that you don’t see too often in a house. I would imagine that it was used to create an easier, more fluid transition between the entry space and the kitchen. You will see that you can enter directly into the front living room because it is at the same level as the entry. The dining and kitchen are two steps up. While a couple of steps would also have worked (as in the connection between the dining area and the front living area, the treads would have been quite wide and it would have left a fair bit of left over space. The length of the ramp uses that space to create a gentle slope.

  • Tony

    I’m sorry but i don’t understand the need for the ramp. It is not even featured in any of the project photos. I think it is a very nice house with one very indulgent feature that doesn’t add to the design – too bad.

  • John Brown

    I appreciate your reaction to the idea of a ramp – it is very easy for these sorts of things to be very self-indulgent and unnecessary. Without a picture it is hard to judge the merit of this particular situation. Would your opinion change if it was detailed as a part of the floor surface that simply inclined up to the kitchen?

  • Robert Timber

    While searching for more info on this architect, I found a profile of his own home. He used a similar ramp there as well.

    Overall I like the home, especially the connection and orientation to the outdoor space. I was happy to see that the wall cabinets shown on the floor plan, in front of the stools, were not installed. Must have been a plan error.

    I always wonder how the floor to ceiling glass in this type of modern home, such as in the living room, may be screened for privacy.

  • Tony

    John, from what I can see the floor surface is all a type of red hardwood. and i assume the ramp is the same material. When I first saw the plan, I thought it was an opening to the basement level that would let light in from the stairwell to below. I thought – wow – what a great concept – even in the photo of the kitchen it looks like a drop off to the lower level. Then i realized it was a ramp and thought ho hum.

  • Shevaun O’Connor

    Are there no laws regarding handrails where this home was built? I know where I live, you cant have horizontal rails at all, and you’d never be allowed to eliminate the handrail entirely. But the divider looks great. By the way, this site is amazing and I very much appreciate all the work you put into it. Thank you!

  • John Brown


    Very perceptive. You are correct in your assessment.

    I would wager that the wood divider piece qualifies as a guardrail on the stairs because it is actually a continuous wall up to the ceiling. On the second floor, if the inspector passed it as a low guardrail it would probably be because the horizontal slats are very close together and would not pose a climbing hazard. Most jurisdictions require a handrail (as opposed to a guardrail) on only one side of a residential stair. If you look closely at the images you will see that the house has just been finished but not yet occupied.I would assume that one would be installed on the solid wall to the right. Putting the utility handrail on the wall opposite the architecturally detailed guard is a technique that we often use in our work. It keeps things simpler to build and to use.

  • Gerard Cadger

    As far as internal organization goes, A+. However, and this is a big however, the site’s orientation is lacking on several levels. a)The building could make much more use of south-facing windows by being turned about 25 degrees, adding significantly to solar gain. It seems as though the architect paid no attention to this. b)Placing the house closer to the deciduous trees on the south side would, in combination with a), benefit the heating bills year-round, and create greater intimacy with nature. c) The size of the north-facing windows is appalling. While completely in line with modernist style, the loss of heat through this material will in time counter the desirability of a nice open wall. A thin vertical window can provide an aesthetically pleasing connection with the outside world while remaining environmentally responsible in terms of energy loss. Great project for discussion John, I’m very glad you’re doing this!

  • John Brown

    Thank you for looking so closely at the site plan for this project.

    Your assessment of the solar orientation makes sense. It is always an interesting to negotiate this issue with technical and legislative concerns. For example, you are right that having the house closer to the south tress is better from a solar point of view. Technically, however, building much closer than what is shown in this project risks damaging the root ball of the trees. Legislatively, most jurisdictions also regulate the setback from the street so that the front of new houses line up (more or less) with their neighbors. I am surprised that this house is as far forward on the lot as it is.

    In the end, I think that the lesson to take from this would be consider augmenting the existing trees with some fast growing new ones, located in the most advantageous location from a solar point of view.

  • m daby

    There’s alot of wasted space in the kitchen. It’s a long walk between appliances/workzones. Although the seating bar allows you a view of the backyard, it doesn’t allow any comfortable interaction with persons working in the kitchen. It is often nice to have a place for sitting and socializing with the cook, especially when the kitchen is secluded from the main living spaces.
    I can see having a party and everyone standing in the floor space in the middle of the kitchen.
    …but I think I already commented about this house a few years ago on your site.
    …typically like your features houses!