UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES, a house that violates local ordinances and requires a gaggle of variances would be a pariah in a community. Not this one. In fact, the city overwhelmingly approved the house, feeling that its architectural merits would be good for the community.

The original house was 1,500 square feet, but the owners wanted to double the living space, add a pool, and create covered parking. Remodeling wasn't an option, so the designers razed the house and started from scratch, says architect James Trahan. Because the lot measured only 103 by 72 feet, Trahan had to use every inch of the site, which required special-use permits and seven variances.

With approvals in hand, Trahan created a courtyard-style house that has exposed masonry with carefully placed apertures that offer privacy from the street. A variety of courtyards throughout the lot create outdoor spaces. The modern interior features a metal, open-riser staircase within a commercial aluminum storefront system, frosted glass panels, and a stained concrete floor. The sliding aluminum doors throughout permit light to flow in, while touches of maple help warm the space.

CATEGORY: Custom home, less than 3,500 square feet; ENTRANT / ARCHITECT / BUILDER / INTERIOR DESIGNER: Architectural Resource Team, Phoenix; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Tonnesen, Tempe, Ariz.; LAND PLANNER: 180 degrees, Phoenix

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.