As far as I understand, Pb Elemental uses a design process called "exploratory design". This involves sitting down and cranking out dozens and dozens of variations of a subject, then picking the best ideas out of those and repeating if necessary. It's rather tedious and time consuming, but it forces the designer to explore all possible avenues of a concept and make sure the best possible variant bubbles to the top. All this happens behind the curtain, so my only exposure to it is through a few incremental drafts.
Toward the end of August, Pb Elemental settled on a the following concept as a first draft. There would be two separate volumes joined together - one going up, the other going down. In this version, the house would be a split-level.
The garage is on the split.
The second floor is cantilevered over the lower floor and is designed to be the main living area.
Last, there is a set of stairs leading to a rooftop deck. There would be a large, sloped skylight over the living area, and a green roof over the bedroom.
The house had around 1600sq feet not including the decks and garage. This design incorporated many of the requirements I asked for, set up a general concept for the spaces in the house, and was enough to get a conversation going.
I thought that the concept was great start, but it had some flaws, as expected and forewarned. The proportions of the rooms on the bottom floor were a bit off (ceilings too high for the size of the room), and the house was a little narrow for the lot. I would have a useless 5' strip of yard on the left side of the house.
I made the request to increase the width of the house to take advantage of that strip, knowing this would push up the cost of construction. I think this was the right decision to make, even though it would lead to some tense moments during financing later on.