DC’s Narrow House Drops Price To $3 Million


Nicknamed the “Narrow House” due to its unusual width, this contemporary 1985 home stands apart from the many Colonial and Georgian-style homes found in Northwest Washington’s Foxhall Village neighborhood.

The 18-foot-wide house was designed by Iranian-born architect Djahanguir Darvich, who was a painter and sculptor before becoming interested in what he called “the creativity of structures.”

“It was raining [as an architect]in Italy in Turin at the Politechnico di Torino,” Darvich said in an email. “Italy was the perfect place to train because [of the]Italian aesthetics and [its]the functional design is timeless.

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Narrow house | Nicknamed the “Narrow House” due to its unusual width, this contemporary 1985 home was designed by Iranian-born architect Djahanguir Darvich. It is listed at just under $3 million. (JJ Gagliardi / Changeover Media)

During his long career, Darvich, 89, has designed schools, car dealerships, monuments, television studios and homes.

“My interest is primarily in resistance through form,” Darvich said. “The one I’m most proud of is Farahabad Stadium. [now known as Takhti Stadium in Tehran]which has a structure made up of cables and pillars with a suspended roof which is still the largest span cable roof in the world, spanning 250 meters.

Darvich came to Washington to design car dealerships for Darcars in the mid-1980s. It was then that he designed the narrow house for himself and his family. While looking for a place to build, he discovered a one-bedroom, one-bathroom house on a meager lot.

“At that time, the price of the land was convenient and the house is in front of P street, so there are no houses directly in front of the land, which allows a better view of the street and the house” , said Darvich. “The biggest challenge was convincing the zoning board to allow me to remodel and add [to]a lot shorter than the zoning bylaw [allowed]. I was able to accomplish this with the shape of the house.

Darvich said that because zoning regulations required that one wall from the original house be retained, he incorporated it into his design. Part of a red painted wall is visible on the side of the house.

The house’s structural integrity is enhanced by what Darvich calls a “balloon system” – where the exterior wall studs that span the house’s three stories are one piece. He also installed six steel beams that intersect to form three Xs – two of which are hidden in the walls, one of which is visible. They reduce vibration and add stability. The visible X, painted red, is as much a sculptural work as a practical necessity.

“The structural design of the house prevents any vibration, even in strong winds or earthquakes,” Darvich said.

A cherry red door welcomes visitors to the house. Darvich designed the doors to the house.

“The doors are influenced by my training in sculpture,” he said.

The lobby’s gray granite floors and white walls create a dramatic entrance. Walls and ceilings are a geometric delight with curves, arcs and angles. The curves of the stairs that lead to the upper levels are offset by the sharp right angles that protrude from the handrail and below.

The living room and dining room are filled with arches in what appears to be a nod to Moorish architecture.

“I wanted to keep a classic vaulted ceiling in a modern environment,” Darvich said. “The vaulted ceilings and arches in the dining room and living room are my favorite elements, as I built them myself by hand.”

The kitchen has an exaggerated tray ceiling, Poggenphol cabinetry, tiled floor, Gaggenau double oven, double door fridge, grill and cooktop. The breakfast nook offers seating for a casual meal.

Darvich spent the most time in the veranda at the back of the house, which has 12-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides. He used it as an office.

“I like the view of nature,” he says.

The three-bedroom, five-bathroom, 3,600-square-foot home is listed at $2,999,000.

1452 Foxhall Road. Northwest, Washington, D.C.

  • Bedrooms/bathrooms: 3/5
  • Approximate area: 3,600
  • Lot size: 0.12 acres
  • Features: The 1985 house was designed by Iranian-born architect Djahanguir Darvich. The house is 18 feet wide and three stories high. Six steel beams that intersect to form three Xs were installed to improve the structural stability of the house. The one that remained visible was painted red, creating a sculptural work of art. Besides the attached garage for one car, there is parking for three additional cars.
  • Listing agent: Fruwah Chapman, PenFed Realty

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