A Historic Craftsman in Phoenix, Arizona, Anchors a Community of Nine Modern Bungalows

Marrying old and new, an eclectic community in Phoenix's Garfield Historic District finds harmony with its colorful surroundings.

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The winners and runners-up of the 2022 Andersen Bright Ideas Awards are presented by Andersen Windows & Doors.
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The Polk Bungalows are the winner in the 2022 Andersen Bright Ideas Awards in the multifamily category. Explore all of this year’s single family and multifamily winners and runners-up on our Awards page

On Polk Street in Phoenix, Arizona, a modest bungalow sat prominently on a larger, developable site within the historic neighborhood of Garfield—a culturally diverse district filled with rich Hispanic heritage, vibrant murals, and colorful graffiti. On the cusp of a commercial zone, the 1930s bungalow was previously an automobile upholstery shop—and before that, a bar—until the eventual conversion to its current residential status.

Taking the existing residence back to its roots, two architecturally inconsistent additions from the 1980s were removed, and the restored bungalow was given a fresh coat of vibrant pink paint.

Taking the existing residence back to its roots, two architecturally inconsistent additions from the 1980s were removed, and the restored bungalow was given a fresh coat of vibrant pink paint.

Positioned at the edge of downtown Phoenix, the site delicately straddles high-density developments to the east, and a blanket of smaller-scale stucco cottages to the west. For architect Aaron Bass of Phoenix-based Stance Architecture, this crossroads was integral to a sensitive site design. "As architects, we felt like we wanted something that was scalable to the neighborhood," reflects Bass. "For us, it was our take on ‘How do we make a dense project that's very respectful to the neighborhood and to the occupants within it?’"

In addition to the common architectural threads, the modern bungalows relate to the historic structure through color — borrowing the punchy pink for an accent at the entry.

In addition to the common architectural threads, the modern bungalows relate to the historic structure through color — borrowing the punchy pink for an accent at the entry.

This critical question led to the design of nine compact, autonomous homes, a conscious departure from a denser, "stacked" apartment format that would have been allowable on the site. For Bass and the developer client, the project’s vision instead centered around creating a community, and giving each resident autonomy and independence. "We felt that by the homes being independent from one another, people had a feeling of ownership that they wouldn't typically have if they were renting in a traditional apartment complex," shares Bass.

A 12-foot wide span containing a pocket door completely eliminates the outdoor-indoor barrier on the living level. Operable windows — including the casement in the background — were designed with sizable proportions and full height conditions. "We tried to make the majority of the windows at the scale of a person, almost to where it felt like a door," says Bass.

A 12-foot wide span containing a pocket door completely eliminates the outdoor-indoor barrier on the living level. Operable windows — including the casement in the background — were designed with sizable proportions and full height conditions. "We tried to make the majority of the windows at the scale of a person, almost to where it felt like a door," says Bass.

In designing the new dwellings, Bass and team didn’t look far for inspiration. The Craftsman bungalow with a colorful history became the guiding force for the new structures. Borrowing the architectural vernacular of the gabled Craftsman, the new dwellings incorporate a low-slung pitched roof, the height of which does not exceed the existing bungalow. To create hierarchy on the site, the new bungalows were set back from the street, keeping the historic home in the visual foreground, and thereby celebrating its significance to the project and the neighborhood. Spatial autonomy for the modern bungalows includes a lower level patio, which acts as an extension of the living area. "Those spaces between each unit become your porch, if you will, like the porch of the historic bungalow—which is its signature feature," explains Bass.

Each modern bungalow enjoys private outdoor space in the form of a ground level patio — a nod to the signature bungalow porch.

Each modern bungalow enjoys private outdoor space in the form of a ground level patio — a nod to the signature bungalow porch.

Each of the new bungalows has a compact 21-by-22-foot footprint, staggered slightly on the site to increase privacy between neighbors. The two-story homes each include one bedroom and one and a half bathrooms—in just 840 square feet of living space. The smaller scale of the bungalows forced Bass and team to think carefully about how openings could make the space feel brighter, bigger, and more livable. One way this was achieved was through large, 12-foot wide pocketing sliders on the ground level, which disappear when opened, and visually extend the main living room, dining room, and kitchen area. "The idea was that we can make these small units, but make them feel really big with big spans of glass," says Bass.

Each bungalow contains one bedroom and one bathroom, in 840 square feet of living space. The pocketing slider expands the feel of the compact dwelling. "As a team, we looked at, ‘How can we influence the project in a way that brings a benefit to people's living? How do we introduce more light into every project?’" recalls Bass.

Each bungalow contains one bedroom and one bathroom, in 840 square feet of living space. The pocketing slider expands the feel of the compact dwelling. "As a team, we looked at, ‘How can we influence the project in a way that brings a benefit to people's living? How do we introduce more light into every project?’" recalls Bass.

Thoughtfully detailed corner windows are operable by design to employ passive ventilation strategies—particularly valuable in Arizona’s cooler seasons. Awning or casement windows on the ground floor can be opened to generate airflow up the stairway, and out through the full-height casement window on the second floor.

The generously-sized openings connect to the surrounding landscaping, which will grow and mature over time. Favoring drought-tolerant native vegetation, Hacienda Creeper vines will envelop the buildings gradually on the ground floor, while Desert Willows planted between buildings will offer denser tree coverage at the second floor. "The intent is that as you're looking out your window, you're in the canopy of the trees on the second floor, and then on the ground floor, you’re in that vine zone," shares Bass. "All of the openings are pretty much facing some sort of greenery."

The goal of the Polk Bungalows was to make it feel "like a community within a community," says architect Aaron Bass.

The goal of the Polk Bungalows was to make it feel "like a community within a community," says architect Aaron Bass.

The Polk Bungalows strive to add to the rich cultural fabric of Garfield, while celebrating and honoring the past through design. "We're hoping that over time, it becomes something that's seen in the community as a real positive thing," reflects Bass. "It's really exciting for us to be part of Garfield."

Learn more about all the 2022 winners at andersenawards.dwell.com

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