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When Is A Garage Door More Than Just A Simple Shelter For A Car

When Is A Garage Door More Than Just A Simple Shelter For A Car
The garage door opens the dining area of this container house to the comfortable outdoor space.

The garage door opens the dining area of this container house to the comfortable outdoor space.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Walsh Photography for Prefabulous Small Houses

Garage doors have come a long way in design and use since they first were invented to shelter the early cars coming on the scene in the early 1900s. Early on cars were parked in barns and fee-based garages. But with the inconvenience of getting to the garage came the first personal garages. These were originally sold by Sears Roebuck mail-order catalogue and generally looked like carriage house, swing out doors.  In 192 C. G. Johnson invented the first garage door with an overhead operation and then in 1926, the first electrically operated overhead garage door.  It wasn’t until the mid 20th century that houses began to be designed with an attached garage and after World War II, with multi-car garages. 

In those early years of the development of the garage door they were generally all used for the storage of automobiles (and household tools) and improvements came in the form of materials – from wood to metal and glass, and then sensors were created to avoid having the door come down on objects including cars, children and pets.  Garage doors have also become more available in a variety of designs and colors, as well as custom ones. According to the United States Department of Energy 63 percent of all housing today has a garage or carport.

In recent years people have found other creative ways to use garage doors besides for the storage of their cars.

In Santa Monica, Minarc designed a garage door as an art piece. They bought a basic garage door and mechanism and used scrap wood and leftover quartz from the countertops to create a focal point for this beautiful house. These scraps would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.  

Using scrap wood and quartz, Minarc Architects designed a garage door that is a beautiful art piece and focal point of this Santa Monica house.

Using scrap wood and quartz, Minarc Architects designed a garage door that is a beautiful art piece and focal point of this Santa Monica house.

Photo courtesy of Art Gray Photography for Prefabulous World

In Israel, the architect designed this garage door as a safety feature for this vacation home. It closes the house up tight when they are away and can be opened when they are there, opening the house to lots of natural light and ventilation. 

The garage door closes up the interior space of this vacation home to keep it secure when the owners are away. The house was designed by architect Guy Zucker of Z-A Studio.

The garage door closes up the interior space of this vacation home to keep it secure when the owners are away. The house was designed by architect Guy Zucker of Z-A Studio.

Photo courtesy of photographer Assaf Pinchuk for Prefabulous World

When Place Architects designed a single-family house for a family in Kirkland. WA, they wanted to make the space flexible and incorporate the outdoors as much as possible. They designed the house with a garage door that opens up in the dining area to an outdoor porch. In the warmer weather, the dining table on wheels is brought outside, easily expanding the living area. 

Wheels on the dining table allow the family to use it as a dining table in the house, as well as a picnic table outside when the garage overhead door is opened.

Wheels on the dining table allow the family to use it as a dining table in the house, as well as a picnic table outside when the garage overhead door is opened. This house was designed by Place Architects.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Britton for Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid.

Similarly, when Christopher Bittner of obr Architecture designed a container cottage with the homeowners, they wanted to expand the small 720 square foot space as much as possible. They opted to include a garage door that would also  open from the dining area to the outside deck, vastly expanding the space and making it more airy.

The garage door can be closed for security or when the weather is inclement.

The garage door can be closed in this container home in San Diego County, CA, for security or when the weather is inclement.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Walsh Photography for Prefabulous Small Houses

As people decide to build smaller, more compact houses, garage doors will become a helpful element in opening up the space. While they expand the space they also provide natural air and ventilation, reducing the requirement of using fossil fuel.

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Greg Vander Wel

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