Domestic Wall

New Canaan, Connecticut


Reyner Banham’s seminal paper “A Home is Not a House” presented a critique of modernism and its inattention to environmental concerns through a study of Philip Johnson’s Glass House. In Domestic Wall, After Architecture revisits Banham’s critique and definition of the Environment-Bubble in order to re-imagine the modern house archetype. The building rejects Johnson’s brick slab and core ensemble, in favor of a model that takes into account increasing resource scarcity and urban growth. The resulting novel dwelling type accommodates greater density through elimination of lot setbacks and the augmentation of the party wall, uses passive environmental control, and promises access to nature while dislodging the assumption of a sprawling yard. By inverting Johnson’s centralized brick service core with an outer brick service corridor, Domestic Wall allows for increased density (a 3-sided party wall) and frees up the central space for a courtyard. Borrowing its technique from the seventeenth century low-tech fruit walls that revolutionized European farming, the building’s brick perimeter absorbs solar heat during the day to keep the building warm at night.