Geothermal House

Belmont, Massachusetts

Occupying the space between the ground and the tree canopy, this house is conceived as a series of horizontal planes that terrace along the edge of a south-facing hill above a pond—the guest wing, main living spaces, and bedroom wing all wrap along the hill’s crest. The house is organized on the site to take advantage of the daily path of the sun. The kitchen faces east while the living room and its terrace face west to take advantage of the setting sun. All rooms receive light on two sides, and the combined living room, dining room, kitchen area receives light on four sides through the use of a clerestory, enabling the sun to be a continual and ever-changing presence in the main body of the house.

The scheme creates ambiguity between interior and exterior space. In the primary living areas, the horizontal planes of the floor and roof surfaces extend beyond large openings of glass. The interior is characterized by multiple planes of light entering into the house at a variety of levels, due to subtle articulations in the walls and windows. 

The house is designed to tread lightly on the environment. The north façade is more insular while the south façade opens the house to the site and the sun. Attention has been paid to creating cross-ventilation through all the rooms. Large overhanging trellises modulate and dapple the intense summer sun in the living room and master bedrooms, while allowing in the winter sun. Both the heating and cooling systems are geothermal.