House A – 424 Little Switzerland Road

One of the most recent units of the group, this red­wood house, the designers’ own home, represents a culmination and refinement of planning theories and details introduced in the houses previously built (namely, B, C, D, E, and F).  The living room is placed on  the second floor; the kitchen and dining room are on the ground  floor, and the entrance door occurs at an intermediate level.  This basic scheme, an intelligent design reflection of the sloping  site, also separates living activities and provides desired privacy.  Sleeping space and a bathroom also occur on each level – for the same reasons.

To suit the owners’ particular preferences, however, the plan of House A is considerably more open and flexible than those of the other  houses at Little Switzerland.  Separation between several of the rooms or use areas is accomplished by curtaining instead of partitions, and sliding panels and removable, full-height closets anticipate the probability that alternate floor arrangements may be desired in future. The recreation deck above on the roof is reached by a stair behind a sliding panel in the living room; the kitchen porch opens onto the walled terrace on the view side at ground level.  The garage and workshop, planned as part of the house, are connected directly with  the entrance hall.  Placement of the house on the lot made an entrance drive unnecessary.

An important aspect of the organization of the house is the relative  barrier to  view and  distraction it offers on the approach side and the continuous large­ scale fenestration that occurs toward the south and the commanding view of the Smoky Mountains. A highly ration­alized scheme, it provides both inter­mediate post supports that allow sub­division of the area into several sizes of desirable room shapes and the ad­vantages to be gained from use of solar heat in winter.  They admit,  however, that some of this economy  is attributable to the central location of the heater room and chimney. To shade the sun in summer, the out­riggers above the window bands are fitted with removable asbestos panels which slide into grooves provided in the framework. “These provide better air circulation than a solid overhang,” according to the designers.

The entire house was built by Mr. Clauss with the help of one local man. Foundation walls below grade are of poured concrete; above grade, native stone is used, the same stone from which the fireplace and chimney are built. Wood framing is covered with wood sheathing and roofing paper and finished with redwood siding. Interior walls are of gumwood plywood; ceilings are plaster over gypsum lath; and finished floors are oak. Both walls and roof contain a layer of mineral-wool insulation.

The sliding windows are a development of the ones the designers used in the first house built in the development–House F, the log-cabin minimum house. The dining-room photograph over page is particularly effective in showing how amply these invite the superb view. In summer time, the sliding device permits extreme openness or a variety of placements of the sash to lure the breeze. Indirect light panels are used to illuminate the living room and hall.

A study of  the photographs on these two pages reveals  the exceptional  consideration  that  the designers gave  to storage problems, step-saving devices, and  provisions  to  simplify  housekeeping.   Between the  dining room and kitchen a large central panel slides back to facilitate  meal serving. Underneath the counter of this pass window, on the dining room side,  is storage space  for  dining table  items.    On the kitchen   side,  the counter can be used either as a work top for food preparation or as a sit-up eating place for quick, informal meals. Use of sliding doors on all storage units saves much floor space and helps keep the rooms neat in appearance. The master bedroom is equipped with a long, low built-in storage cabinet along the side wall in addition to an unusually large full-height closet. This generous provision of well-located built-in elements greatly simplifies furnishing. Only a minimum of movable pieces is required.

Source: Progressive Architecture, February 1946