Changing Spaces - Design Bureau

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Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

To control wind and solar heat gain, Phoenix-based screening specialists The Screen Machine and parent company TSM Systems worked with Colab to design and install the remote-controlled motorization system for the operable awning wall. “We work with many high-end architects on projects that require innovation and creativity,” says Fred Woodward, president of TSM Systems.

Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

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The studio and home of Matthew and Maria Salenger has undergone several transformations since they purchased their 1950s three-bedroom house. An earlier incarnation placed sleeping spaces in enclosed mobile structures in this courtyard. The birth of their son necessitated another design overhaul. Here is an exterior view of how the home looks now.

Changing Spaces

Friday, May 24th, 2013

By Margot Brody
Photos by Mark Boisclair and Bill Timmerman

For 13 years, Matthew and Maria Salenger have lived at the same address within a 1950s suburban development in Tempe, Arizona. But as their lives have changed, so has their home. Just beyond the unassuming façade of their Cedar Street residence, the two architects have made it a point to challenge convention and embrace change. In 2000, the Salengers purchased the original three-bedroom house, where they founded their architecture firm Colab Studio.

To allow themselves more open, undefined space for their in-home architecture practice, they gutted it and built two “bedroom pods” in their spacious backyard. But with the birth of their son in 2008, the couple realized they would have to rethink the cool but increasingly impractical layout of the space. “We felt the need to continue changing the house with our ongoing lives,” says Matthew Salenger. “A house for us must be flexible and transformable.” 

“The main house became crowded with all of the functions melding together,” he says. “And our previous ‘odd’ design had completely tanked the value. We wanted our new design to fit with our desire for unconventionality, but retain financial viability.” Once again, the pair’s penchant for out-of-the-box thinking came to the rescue. “We engaged 40 potential homebuyers to test what they would want in a home,” he explains. “The first priority was a ‘great room’ combining living-kitchen-dining, and the second was a courtyard. Their answers became the basic program for our house.”

With the addition of an open-form structure on the far end of the backyard, the Salengers loosely separated the functions of each house into “daytime” and “nighttime” activities. “The separation also allows our son to sleep while we entertain, or to keep noisy youngsters separated if desired,” says Salenger. High, etched glass privacy walls along either edge of the grass courtyard create an entirely enclosed central outdoor space. “The courtyard acts as a giant playpen for our son, allowing the adults to watch his activity while cooking, dining, or relaxing,” he says. Additionally, climate-specific details, such as a giant sun shade, make the design environmentally feasible.

Thus the layout of the residence culminates in an intimate, comfortable, and modifiable living compound. “Kids are born, grow up, and move out. Adults have their changing needs too,” says Salenger. “To us, it makes sense to allow a house to adapt to its users’ needs.”

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