See Through House Brings In Natural Light

KUBE Architecture put their ArchiCAD skills to use on a recent interior renovation of a row home located in the Foggy Bottom section of Washington DC. Their skill and application of unique solutions has resulted in the firm’s receiving recognition for its design of the “See-Through House.” The “See-Through House” received an excellence in interior design award winner from the AIA DC Chapter.

ArchiCAD renovationAs its name would lead the reader to believe, the home has a see-through feature: glass floors that run from ceiling to basement were employed to transform the rather dark interior of the three story single family home into a space full of natural light – something the home’s prospective owners desperately wanted to achieve.

Challenges Overcome

That transformation did not come easily. Historic building codes put restrictions on what could be done to the home. During the design phase of the renovation the team at KUBE had to focus only on the home’s interior, front and rear. After some deliberation and close communication with the client, the “See-Through House” began to take shape.

“Our clients traveled to DC to go over the design concepts we’d come up with. For those meetings we were very fortunate to have the drawings, and 3D perspectives to show them. When you consider that we were essentially putting a hole in the middle of the ceiling and on every level of the home to allow that natural light to come in, the ability to demonstrate that clearly at the early design phase was very important.”

Clearly Designed, Clearly Understood

ArchiCAD Interior Design BIMBecause the drawings were so clear, the client was able to approve the designs quickly and move forward on with no hesitation, giving the go-ahead to slice through the middle of the home, with a skylight feature on the roof that allows light from roof to move from floor to floor. A skylight sits over the open riser stairs.

Given that this was a somewhat unique method of bringing natural light into a row house, Loosle says he and his team relied heavily on the model created in ArchiCAD to ensure his clients were clear about the process and what the final result would be. The model was also a key factor in the AIA Jury’s determination of the home as an award winner.

The AIA Jury, responsible for awarding KUBE with an award for excellence in interior design, commented that the diagram of the home provided a clear understanding of the design concept for the house.

KUBE has installed skylights into other homes before, but this project was the first in which the light was brought down through the whole house. Various types of frosted glass were tested in the model until it became obvious that a clear glass floor would allow the most light to pass through.

Each glass opening has LED lights around the perimeter so that the glass floor can be lit on overcast days.

Added “Green” Elements

ArchiCAD interior design BIMOther modifications were made to the interior of the home, in addition to the skylight feature. Frosted glass comprise the panels at top of stairs into master bedroom, letting light pass from interior of bedroom to stairwell. The walls were painted with white and blue paint to reiterate the notion of light, the original, circular staircase was replaced with a straight one and the floors were updated to include bamboo, a sustainable product. The balcony and patio area are constructed with Virok – a cement board from Portugal which was originally designed to be used as a substrate, but can also be used as a finish material. Solar tubes are used to brighten the main bathroom as well as the enclosed comode.



  1. Staircase Ideas

    Awesome design! Love it! I need to work on my stairs as well… Thank you

  2. Samantha Velez

    The light coming in from the see-through floors and the blue color they chose to paint the ways really creates a strong effect. I love how relaxing it looks. Great design!


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