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Shelton House Has a U-Shaped Plan and a Sunken Entry Courtyard

Shelton House

Architects: El Dorado
Project: Shelton house
Principal in Charge: Josh Shelton
Project Manager: Steve Salzer
Area 275 sqm
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Photography: Mike Sinclair

The Shelton house is an urban home for a family of four built in the Westside neighborhood of downtown Kansas City. With a main structure consisting of just under 2,000 square feet, the house makes a compelling argument for quality over quantity within the context of a downtown neighborhood that is striving for increased urban vibrancy.

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The layout of the residence is a “U” shaped plan, organized around an entry courtyard to the east and a shaded full-length porch to the west. While the entry courtyard dips 6’-0” below the back-yard grade, the front porch floats dramatically in the trees, over 20’-0” above Madison Avenue. Large sliding glass and screen doors connect the kitchen, dining room and the living room to the courtyard and the porch, and provide the entire house with sufficient cross ventilation to enjoy summer breezes during evening hours. The house leverages natural daylighting to provide 100% of its daytime illumination, and utilizes dimmable fluorescent cove lighting and limited recessed halogen fixtures for nighttime illumination.

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The master bedroom and bathroom suite is scaled appropriately for an urban residence, and opens up to the front porch to enjoy the quiet Westside nights. The kids’ bedrooms are designed for flexible configurations, opening up to one another and the entry courtyard as a single bedroom suite, if desired. Hand-crafted loft beds organize functional closet space and homework stations below.

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The unique site section of the Shelton house renders its interior as an urban sanctuary; a place of quiet domestic reflection within a gritty, urban neighborhood.

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Tucked in below on one side, and hovering above on the other, the transparent qualities of interior spaces and exterior courtyards open up generously to one another within a cedar clad structure that carefully edits the surrounding exterior environment, distilling the sounds of trains and prevailing breezes through sliding glass walls and dappled western sunsets through adjacent deciduous tree limbs. Upon approach from the alley, however, the house is largely invisible: the public spaces of the house unfold step by step, poetically suspended between the ground below and the transplanted prairie ecosystem on the roof.

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The Shelton house is ultimately a careful study of site section, nestled tightly into the site on one hand, and floating effortlessly above the site on the other. It celebrates quiet intimacy of family life by contributing a quiet, unassuming and unexpected presence to the intimate context of its surrounding neighborhood.

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