The Butcher House Courtyard

John and Matthew return to the Slow Home Studio to answer a viewer’s question about the Butcher House, a single family residence designed by Linebox Studio.

  • Terri

    John and Matthew,
    Thanks again for an informative discussion. Now I understand those unusual windows better.

  • Matthew North

    Hello Terri – we have missed your comments while we have been re-working the site! Nice to hear from you again! Will you be coming to the workshop on Saturday morning?

  • Paul C


    This is a very well done. I am a strong proponent of internal, intimate outside spaces, especially with long narrow buildings. I think they can actually reduce the sense of narrowness, provided the length is composed of large blocks of space which I think this home achieves. Think of the historical precedence “shotgun” house. (see image)

    I also like the fact that this has been done in Ottawa (i.e. not known for its balmy Februarys) It puts to rest, in my mind, the notion that these types of outdoor spaces only work in warmer climates.

    The stairs are great and the flexibility of the kitchen island works very well. Another example of what to do with a single sided kitchen. (albeit L-shaped in this case)

  • Mid America Mom

    Nice question!

    Love seeing more natural light. Though not sure on the low placement- light my calves?

    But I do like transoms over doors lighting halls so perhaps just another take..

    Mid America Mom

  • http://s John Brown

    Thanks for the image of the shotgun house. It is an interesting precedent for “long house floor plans”. The challenge in all of these situations is circulation. Having to pass through the bedroom to get to the kitchen in the shotgun house is the most extreme version but it can be equally problematic in more contemporary examples. Think of some of the bad townhouse layouts we came across in the slow home project.

  • http://s John Brown


    As I understand it from Andrew Reeves of Line Box Studios, the idea behind the side yard windows was to create a compositional pattern of light on an otherwise solid wall. I think the low windows work because they make the composition more abstract – almost like a painting.

  • Paul C

    Thanks John and no question. What I find interesting is not so much the use planning of this vintage example but moreover the approach to space organization from many many years ago is in some ways still relevant today. As an aside, I think the home in the image is 12 feet wide.

  • Andrew – Linebox


    The idea of the window wall ways to create a fun and random like composition of windows that act more like picture frames. (why also allowing interesting light / shadows into the space) The windows will frame the flowers, tree and landscape art in the side yard garden. The main experience of these windows would happen while sitting at the dining table. The client (a huge Gardner and entertainer) wanted to create a conversation wall and frame her unique gardening skills while sitting and eating.

    The garden concept was also developed inside the home (interior garden) that is in the centre of the home and viewable form all the other spaces. The interior garden also has a huge 5′X5′ skylight above it facing due south to allow a large amount of light to hit the interior garden. The client plans to grow more tropical (but suitable for indoors) planting in this location as it reminds her of her home country. We also provide three huge windows in the rear to expose what will be her heavily manicured rear yard garden. Though only a part of the overall design bringing the outside in (laterally) and creating views to the outside gardens (not the neighboring homes side wall) was the driving factor in the ground floor layout. Social spaces to sit, converse, have a glass of wine and read are also major planning responses

  • http://s John Brown

    Andrew kindly provided a link to additional images for this project:

  • Terri

    Thanks for posting the extra images. I could see these larger ones much better than the earlier ones attached to the discussion page. It looks like snow outside in some of the images and not in others. The bottom window in that art-window wall would be a lovely way to see greenery up close. I’m imagining low-growing blooming plants so that as you walk by, you could feel like you’re outdoors (but more private!). Very nice for a town home and so unusual in any home!