Home Design: Living La Vida Linear

Long, linear house plans take advantage of the sun, breeze and view

By John Hill / Courtesy of Houzz.com

The shape of a house's floor plan comes from many considerations: the size and confines of a site, distant views, the type(s) of interior spaces desired, and so on. With this in mind, no shape is ideal or universally applicable; each is suited to a house's unique circumstances. It could be a box, an L-shape, or in the case of the following examples, linear. This type of plan prioritizes views, solar orientation, and cross-ventilation, as well as movement along a strong axis.

This long glass box — the River House — aptly overlooks a river. As can be seen from this view, the depth of the house is quite shallow: a single room, about 20 feet. Seen from the other side ...

We can see how the house acts like a bridge, spanning a valley with access to the lower level and the river beyond. This view clearly illustrates the alternating screen-glass-screen-glass that happens on the long sides.

Here we see the openness of the plan and the easy cross-ventilation that occurs with such a shallow depth.

This two-story rectangular box also orients itself to a body of water. The siting also points the house towards a mature tree overlooking the water, and it extends a deck outward from the house. See inside, next.

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The shallow depth of the house is apparent in this view of open living area. Cross breezes are also aided by ceiling fans. Note the wood louvers outside the sliding doors, for cutting down on summer sun.

This linear building appears quite wide from this entry approach, but the shallow depth of the plan is apparent in the transparency of the room beyond the bridge. The way the house cantilevers at both ends accentuates the length of the house, making it appear to balance on this entry plane that slides under the house. See inside, next.

The main reason for this plan, aside from natural ventilation (heightened by the pitch of the roof), are the stunning views. A linear plan allows every room to capture views.

The linearity of this house is toned down by the variety of the window openings on both floors and the cluster of trees roughly centered on the plan. See inside, next.

The openness of the plan is not just from side to side; it can also be found from floor to ceiling, specifically in this generous living area.

Here is another house where a long plan is broken up, this time by the articulation of the exterior wall. Alternating between brick, wood, and glass, the overhanging wood roof ties the different parts together.

This last house can be seen as a combination of two linear plans; together they form a V-shape. Nevertheless the same considerations apply as in the previous houses, with the added benefit of cradling outdoor space. Here we can see two long bars radiating from each other. See the backyard next.

The aptly named Bent/Sliced House implies an alteration to a long, linear plan. In its eventual incarnation, the kink in the plan goes towards shaping the outdoor space. Note how the outdoor dining terrace ends at the bend in plan. While this house departs from the strict linearity of the previous examples, it also acts as a transition to my next ideabook, where I look at U-shaped plans.