This new home is a responsible urban infill project, located in southwest Minneapolis's Fulton neighborhood. It is "responsible" in the sense that it took the original 1924 home and salvaged and reused a significant amount of material from that old structure, and by replacing it with a forward-looking home with an accessible main floor, a net zero energy ready envelope, and an efficient plan that does not attempt to overbuild the small property. LEED and GreenStar certifications are expected once the review process for each is completed.
General contractor: Morrissey Builders
LEED and GreenStar rater: Building Knowledge
Completed September 2017
"Sisunkoto", by the way, is my name for the house. It is a Finnish term coined by linguist and historian Jukka Luoma (and third cousin to Scott Newland). "Sisu" is well known for meaning, loosely, guts, inner strength, or tenacity. It is a word used with pride by Finns who see it as a quality unique to them. "Koto" is an ancient Finnish word referring to home. "Sisunkoto" is therefore "The home of the Sisu". To Scott - for whom this new home represents a long-held dream - the process of bringing this dream to completion has, at times, required all of the Sisu that he could muster.
Preliminary image from southwest
This view was taken well before completion, prior to landscaping, the screened porch enclosure, and other details. It does show the interlocking forms - the one-story south half that relates to the scale of the immediate neighbors, and the two-story north half that meets the scale of the ever-encroaching developer homes.
Open living room
The living room is open to the home organization nook and entry. The space is subtlety articulated into zones by the dropped glu-lam beams and a screen wall of birch tree trunks. Birch plywood, yellow birch floors and light finishes make the most of the daylight entering the space.
Cabinetry: Partners Woodcraft
Structural engineering: ALIGN Structural, Inc.
Rendering vs. reality
During the design, I used the built-in rendering engine in my BIM software to help visualize the various spaces and do virtual walk-throughs. This composite shows a rendering of the living area and a construction view of the same scene.
Open dining and kitchen areas
The living room opens to the dining area beyond, which in turn opens to the kitchen. With views east over the backyard, the windows are much larger than on the street side of the house.
Rendering vs. reality, part 2
The kitchen, as visualized and as (mostly) built.
The light-filled kitchen features maple cabinetry and HanStone countertops. All major appliances are by KitchenAid, with the refrigerator and dishwasher being EnergyStar labeled. The cooktop is a gas unit by Electrolux, salvaged from a remodeling in Saint Paul. The range hood is by Zephyr.
Cabinetry: Partners Woodcraft
Appliances: All, Inc.
Windows: Integrity by Marvin, tripane units
Stairwell and roof deck
The upper stairwell opens onto a roof deck (not yet complete when this photo was taken). The deck will feature a large planter box on the south side, with tall grasses and other plants to provide a sense of spatial enclosure as well as privacy and shade. Beyond the deck on the east and west sides will be planted roof areas (to be implemented in 2018).
This image shows the steep, south-facing steel roof, which will ultimately feature a large photovoltaic panel array. Below this are the roof deck and roof areas that will be planted. The garage beyond also can feature PV panels, and has a large storage loft above the 2-½ car main space.
The original house
The 1924 house was part of the fabric of the neighborhood for 92 years, but by 2016 it was in a highly desirable neighborhood with rising property values and an increasing number of teardowns as developers came in and replaced older homes with generally overscaled, generic-looking structures. Our goal was different, taking a more sensitive approach to the scale of the detailing of the house so that the new home presented a strong modern image while featuring proportions and materials sympathetic with its older neighbors. All windows were removed and reused (in the new home or by others), and hundreds of other interior items were similarly salvaged. Many landscape materials were transplanted and reused elsewhere.
The original house's kitchen was redone in 2011, and so the cabinetry was easily removed. Several of these cabinets were used in the new home's laundry room. Other cabinets will be used elsewhere or sold. The countertops, appliances and plumbing fixtures were sold on craigslist, as were the doors.