zoka zola architecture + urban design   1737 west ohio street   chicago IL 60622    t 312 491 9431    f 312 491 9432    info@zokazola.com

2305 W. Adams Street
Chicago, Inner City


Our clients have a passion for gardening. They are active in the community in which they live and are founders of a neighborhood garden. They desire a flexible, urban, and green home for two that can accommodate their extended family and friends.

Our Aim

Our aim is to construct an urban single-family home that is ecological, socially regenerative, and self-sustaining. We will only use energy generated on site. We would like this building to be an inspiration to other homeowners and developers in urban environments.


  Zoka Zola, Zero Energy Home Chicago, garden and terrace, natural shading  
view from garden looking toward main building
Site characteristics

This house will be built on a double lot of 40' x 77'. The lot is situated 3 miles west of the Chicago Loop. It sits in between other vacant lots in an area with turn-of-the-century brick and stone buildings.

site from west looking east

Zoning constraints

The lot is zoned R5, which means that the built floor area can be 2.2 x its lot area.

Side yards are required to be 4' wide but are allowed to be up to 4' above ground.

On the west yard, we will build an open terrace 3' above ground all the way to the lot line. On the east yard, we will provide access from the alley to the street and utility meters.

The rear yard is required to be as least 30' deep, but 60% of its area can be occupied with an accessory building with a max hight of 15'.

Our accessory building will be multifunctional. It will be 11' - 5" tall to allow as much southern light in the garden as possible.
  Zoka Zola, Zero Energy Home Chicago, green single family home with optimal orientation, natural ventilation, natural shading, highly insulated, rooftop garden, wind turbine, solar panels, geothermal heating  
view from west looking east

family room
hvac room
first floor entrance.
dining room
multi-use room
terrace, main garden,
east garden
Second Floor
access to roof garden
Third Floor
living room
access to roof garden
Green Roof
location for renewable resources
location for potential
expansion of the house
  Zoka Zola, Zero Energy Home Chicago, breezeway and multi-function space, green roof on garage  

view from garden looking toward kitchen and multi-use room
link to active systems of
this building
link to sun chart for Chicago
link to sun chart for Chicago

In the summer, the operable windows allow cross ventilation. The tree in the south garden gives beauty and summer shade.

In the winter, warm sunlight floods the shallow rooms through large south-facing windows. These windows provide a multitude of views to the outdoors.
Zoka Zola, Zero Energy Home Chicago, diagrams showing green strategies for summer and winter Zoka Zola, Zero Energy Home Chicago, plans showing green strategies for summer and winter

section June 21st 1:00 pm

section December 21st 1:00 pm

plan June 21st 1:00 pm

plan December 21st 1:00 pm

Views from the dinning room, living room, stairs and kitchen during the winter.

Mouse over the images to compare the spaces during winter and summer.



Zoka Zola, Zero Energy Home Chicago, models

design development models
final model images 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The dining terrace connects the passer-by to the garden and canopy tree in it. The building's façades are draped with ivy. Windows on both the North and South walls give the building a porous feel.
A layer of mosses, herbs, and grasses cover the building's roofs. The accessible green roofs encourage bio-diversity and absorb water runoff, while insulating the interior and protecting the roof from thermal shock and ultra violet deterioration.
We divided the house into four zones. Bathrooms are stacked and ventilated as an isolated area of higher moisture and heat. The kitchen is ventilated as an isolated area of higher moisture, heat, and odor. The living and dining spaces are located on the west side of the building where one can enjoy the last rays of the evening sun after work. The detached Multi-Use space is employed as part of the garden and is occasionally heated and cooled.

Design Process
Zoka Zola, Zero Energy Home Chicago, site model
site model

Zoka Zola, Zero Energy Home Chicago, concept design models concept design models

Beires House and Garden in Povoa de Varzim, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza East Pilsen Garden in Chicago,
owned by the Podmajersky family

Intergenerational responsibility

The design is flexible to its present and future owners. The roof garden allows space and infrastructure for the future installation of photovoltaic panels and an aero turbine. We will provide conduits for all future appliances and an HVAC room in the basement of the main building. We are providing space for a future extension as well as structural strength and space for an additional storey to the building.

Our scheme provides a 19' deep and 30' wide multifunctional room that can be used as a garage, a small shop, storage shed, guesthouse, large dining room, and multiple other uses.

      Schedule for construction:
The project is scheduled for construction in Spring/Summer 2007.

Click to view
samples of construction drawings:

kitchen sample of section
S and E wall section of living room
sample of foundation/wall/slab details
sample of foundation/wall/slab details

Square Footage:
lot area: 3066.6 sq.ft.
main building interior: 1737 sq.ft.
detached multi-use building: 600 sq.ft.
basement: 671 sq.ft.
dining terrace: 257 sq.ft.
total garden spaces: 2241 sq.ft

  • Meteorologist Rick DiMaio
  • John Podmajersky
  • Lecture by Stefan Behling on sustainable architecture at IIT



Creative Commons LicenseZoka Zola
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
Design: Zoka Zola, Tanja Reiche, Shu Lai
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
MEP Engineer: IBC Engineering