These long time Oak Park residents loved the garden behind their bungalow yet feared their old wood framed garage as it increasingly listed to one side. They also coveted more sun for their garden that was limited to the mostly shaded space between the house and the garage.
Desiring more space to grow vegetables and flowers, the homeowners asked Hutter Architects to investigate going up with the garden, placing it on top of a new two-car garage. Knowing of their commitment to sustainability, Hutter also discussed the possibility of future electric cars and the relevance of providing enough electric to the new garage to charge two electric cars.
The simple, yet elegant solution was found in a new underground electric service for the home which removed the low wiring from overhead. Then the new wood framed garage was constructed to support the roof deck and the raised bed gardens. Lastly, the electric was brought to the new garage to fulfill on the car charging stations.
The garage doubles as a garden party space as the French Doors to the yard welcome one in from out of either the sun or the rain. The 25’x20’ upper deck is fully planted to provide the homeowners seasons of vegetables, flowers, and berries.
What makes this project great is that at the root it is sustainable. Its simple functionality literally gives rise to an increase in available planting area which produces significantly more CO2, and local vegetables for that matter, than the previous garage which basically just sat there being a garage and had literally reached the end of its useful life. The new structure for carrying the raised bed garden plots, the new underground electrical service, doing the most with the least, all in the interest of meeting needs sustainably makes this a great project worthy of some attention.
This project received the Village of Oak Park’s 2012 Green Award, presented by the Environment and Energy Commission for the design of a residential garage roof top vegetable garden. The awards recognize individuals, groups, and organizations that have demonstrated leadership as stewards of the Oak Park environment.