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“I continually get to understand better through each ADU project, the simple essence of a compact and well-conceived dwelling designed and constructed to provide a meaningful space.” –Daniel Lajoie
As an architect, Daniel Lajoie, owner of Departure Architecture, has always followed infill housing within great cities. Creating ADUs as a way to make cities, neighborhoods, and private properties more livable is a driving force for him.
“ADUs also provide a way for families to create another living unit within their property and this need has become an important feature of our times. The real inspiration though for me, has become the search with each client for a meaningful and responsive solution that can resonate with them. This is especially true when the ADU is for themselves or for a family member (and particularly an aging parent). Finding a solution that touches them in a personal way and somehow captures ‘a just right’ feeling for them is incredibly gratifying.” –Daniel Lajoie
After designing his first ADU about 8 years ago, Daniel has continued to create high performance and sustainable living spaces that are small, yet efficient and practical. It’s particularly important to him to make the living spaces designed with an open feeling as well as being filled with natural light so that the whole space has a more spacious feeling. Creating storage is in every nook and cranny – such as below stairs, within alcoves, under bench seats, and in “utility zones” – becomes a major research endeavor.
Daniel notes that providing privacy for the inhabitants of a two-story ADU – and their neighbors – is one of the biggest challenges when designing a backyard ADU.
“Whenever suddenly a two-story ADU occurs in someone’s backyard, it becomes a challenge to balance the privacy needs of everyone. You don’t want to peer out and see into someone’s bedroom or have them see you. Using high windows or skylights are solutions that we have used in the past to solve this issue. Creating privacy within the backyard itself and defining privacy zones is equally important.” –Daniel Lajoie
For Daniel the highlight of designing an ADU is “when my clients tell me that it’s more than what they imagined.” He explains that he finds great satisfaction when working with his clients to assist in the creation of a truly personal dwelling.
“We all know when we’ve been in a great space and often, we can’t quite put our finger on why it feels so good. When it can touch their soul somehow. What is it that makes this place special? It has to do with a lot of things and trying to capture that magic is really what it’s all about. There’s a lot of time to get to know and understand our clients during the entire process, and part of the solution lies in the particularities and preferences of the client themselves so tapping into this becomes very important.” –Daniel Lajoie
So what advice does Daniel have for homeowners considering creating an ADU on their own property?
“Finally, it’s about results in the end, and to get the results that everyone’s expecting, it has become apparent to us that you have to assemble an ‘integrated design team’ from the very beginning. The clients, the architect, and the builder all make up the core part of the team and together, we work together through the entire process. The entire process is effective and can be very rewarding and fun for all involved.” –Daniel Lajoie