This simple and refined contemporary residence, surrounded by neo-colonial homes in a conventional suburban development, received LEED Silver certification under the USGBC's new pilot program for housing. The house's densely wooded lot and adjacent conservation lands belie the suburban setting. The arrangement of the house on the site, down a 900-foot driveway, preserves a deep connection with the landscape and a sense of seclusion and privacy. Our design arose in collaboration with the clients, one an environmental lawyer, who desired an environmentally sensitive and sustainable approach that could be accomplished within a limited budget. The deliberately straightforward scheme - a simple box form adorned with an asymmetrical roof line - is a direct response to the clients, who suggested that the house express the attitude of "benign neglect." Meeting their criterion required that the design be aesthetically sympathetic to its 5.5-acre site, utilize low maintenance and naturally occurring materials, and facilitate their family's relaxed and informal lifestyle. Within the tight footprint, the 3000 SF residence offers ample public spaces for entertaining adjacent to cozy private spaces, all of which are connected, visually or physically, to the existing woodlands.

Numerous common-sense sustainable practices were incorporated in the house's design. Expansive windows on the front fašade take full advantage of the house's south-facing orientation. During the winter months, when the sun is lower in the sky, abundant natural light enters the public spaces and upstairs bedrooms, opening the house to solar gain and thereby reducing mechanical heating demands. The house's remaining heat requirements are resolved via two pellet stoves and an efficient radiant heating system powered by solar panels. In the summer, the asymmetrical roof shields the upstairs rooms against the intense summer sun. By assuring adequate cross-ventilation we eliminate the need for central air-conditioning without compromising comfort. Through an extensive process of prioritizing and cost control we were able to incorporate recycled and energy efficient materials, including a recycled-tire rubber roofing system, reclaimed hardwood cabinetry, casework and flooring materials, recycled glass tiles and thermal efficient windows. Running electrical lines to the house assures the residents access to an emergency power source and enables them to sell back unutilized energy resources to their local supplier.

Photo Credits:

Chuck Choi Architectural Photography