University Heights is a historic residential district in Madison, the capital of Wisconsin. It’s an area defined by diversity and it’s populated by buildings with various designs and styles. However, even in such a diverse district, a strictly contemporary building such as the Nexus House stands out. The residence was designed by Johnsen Schmaling Architects and built in 2012. It occupies an area of 2,000 square feet on a small and narrow site.
The local preservation ordinance has strict guidelines that dictate stylistic mimicry between the buildings. However, the neighborhood is defined by diversity. Still, the Nexus House ignores all the rules and contrasts with the rest of the residence. But in order to avoid direct visual competition with its neighbors, the house was placed in the back of the site.
The Nexus House is organized into two volumes. One is a two-story brick block that was partially carved into the slope and the other one is a linear cedar-clad volume. The rooms were divided according to their function. The public spaces such as the garage, the support rooms and the living area are located in the brick volume while the private spaces such as the upper level bedrooms, the bathrooms and the reading room are located in the cedar volume. The interior decors are neutral and based on contrasts. The style is contemporary and minimalist and the atmosphere is relaxed and inviting.