aMews House

Architect: Alex Wu Architect  LLC

Owner: Alex Wu Architect  LLC

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Category: One- and Two-Family Production Homes

aMews House demonstrates the role of design in transforming an undesirable, restrictive Atlanta lot into a humane and beautiful space. The project follows earlier research featured at the 2017 Bi-City Biennale for Urbanism/Architecture in Shenzen, China, which explored the untold potential of leftover lots in cities worldwide.

As opposed to suburban and exurban tract developments, projects like aMews House rely on such lots to prove infill housing that can support diversity, affordability, and sustainability in communities that have existing overlooked urban infrastructure. Working in leftover lots requires specialized knowledge of overlapping zoning and building codes, something typical developers with more significant overhead cannot afford to expend. aMews House demonstrates that architect-developers who are well-versed in design and finance are critical to the success of such projects.

"This project is a resounding success despite the challenges posed by its context, neighborhood, and scale." - Jury comment

“This project is a resounding success despite the challenges posed by its context, neighborhood, and scale,” noted the jury.

The project’s lot is 20 feet wide, which allows for a 14-foot-wide house after special relief from suburban zoning regulations—in an urban setting—were granted. In 2018, aMews House was the third smallest lot with a detached single-family residence in all of Atlanta. The two smaller lots were existing grandfathered structures.

After working with collaborative teams for much of his life, the architect altered his career to pursue a better work-life balance. In doing so, he sought to design a thoughtful house. However, without a portfolio full of residential work, it was challenging to find a client to agree to such a project. Instead, the architect decided it would be easier to become the client, pursue financing, and build a spec home.

At the time, Atlanta’s housing market was heating up. To compete with developers with more significant resources, the architect focused on finding smaller, narrow lots, eventually uncovering aMews House’s 20-foot by 75-foot lot. The city’s zoning ordinances encourage speculative developers to destroy or add to a smaller house in order to maximize the building’s site. Unfortunately, this strategy often hurts neighborhoods by creating homogenous housing stock that adds to Atlanta’s affordability challenges.

aMews House modestly attacks this market-driven paradigm. As its name implies, it is inspired by London’s carriage house conversions. As luck would have it, a horseshoe was uncovered during foundation excavation providing an unplanned connection to the project muse.

Additional information

General Contractor: F M Studio LLC    

Engineer - Structural: Law Engineering Consultants, Inc.    

Interior - Furnishings: BoConcepts    

Interior - Furnishings: Design2Sell    

Interior - Artwork: Students and Faculty from the Painting Department of  the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta Campus    

Landscape Consultant: Micah Lipscomb    

Photography: Garey Gomez Photography    

Realtor: Natalie Martinez LLC, Architect + Realtor

Jury

Etty Padmodipoetro, AIA, Chair, Urban Idea Lab, Boston  

Kenneth Luker, AIA, Perkins Will, Durham, N.C.

Marica McKeel, AIA, Studio MM Architect, New York  

Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times, San Francisco  

Image credits

aMews House-06

Garey Gomez

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Garey Gomez

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Garey Gomez

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Garey Gomez

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Garey Gomez