The site was a lost dairy farm, evidenced by abandoned silos, old foundations and overgrown pasture; all too typical in the county. The objective was to resurrect the farm into a new and sustainable form that would “…enrich our lives, our plates, our community and our local ecology.”
Teaming on farm-wide permaculture and masterplan objectives preceded design of the farmhouse precinct, including the farmer’s house, accessory structures and hardscape. More than just a country house, this building was to be the new farm’s emblem. Expressing the farmers’ aspirations, it was to be “of the earth”, at once symbolizing farm tradition and modernity, and self-reliance.
The mandate to incorporate a silo conjured clichés that make architects queasy. We embraced the unavoidable symbol as the scheme’s hinge-pin; the form repurposed for vertical circulation and culminating in a lookout where the farmer surveys the land. Recalling its abandoned ancestor across the farm, the new silo matches in size, running bond cladding and dome of 24 segments. Barn-like gables pinwheel from the silo, positioning rooms to optimize views and define landscape spaces for work and play.
Sustainability initiatives focused on durability, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, resource efficiency and low environmental impact, and include a 30kW solar array, high-efficiency HVAC, super-insulated building envelope, high performance glazing, regionally sourced building materials and rainwater harvesting.
On this bucolic 300+ acre farm with vineyards, woodlands, pastures and barns, we were charged with creating a farm villa in the classic sense of the term. It was to feel as old as the farm, elegant and simple with European roots, resting comfortably in the rural landscape.
The conventional five-bedroom program was overlaid with a squash court, tennis court, hockey rink, stable, gardens, greenhouse, pool, arbor and apartment. The challenge was incorporating this expanded program without creating scalar or typological anomalies, and doing so within the three buildable acres designated by a State agricultural easement.
The structures are disposed around a court, leaving an open end to the landscape. Building positions and orientations are chosen to optimize views and privacy, and to scale the parts hierarchically. The tennis court and hockey rink are combined, overlooked by the sports building which rotates away enabling views.
To maintain “house” identity, the buildings share a detail set and material palette that is distinct from barns existing on the farm. House and court edges are stone clad and lesser parts are wood. Exterior materials of split schist, oak timbers, cedar siding and slate & cedar roofing are common to the region, and are detailed to be both authentic and relaxed. Interior materials of reclaimed oak, limestone, brick, plaster and black iron are chosen for texture and warmth, and detailed sparely. Agrarian patterns of the dooryard, dogtrot, cruck frame and root cellar are reinterpreted into current use.
The pool house idea had been incubating for five years, ever since we had designed and built the house. Once the landscape had grown in, there was nothing more to finish, so the pool house moved to the front burner. We had spent plenty of time thinking it through.
The site was a wooded plateau across the brook, within sight of the house and at the same elevation. The aesthetic objective was a structure that felt part of the family, though clearly secondary and more relaxed than its parent. Square footage was very limited, yet the building needed to entertain sizeable groups or house overnight guests, or just provide shade by the pool.
Our solution involves a rectangular plan with a low-slung, hipped roof, swept upward to enable higher ceilings at the main room and porch. Reclaimed barn siding and darker colors are used in place of the house’s bleached shingles and white trims. Inside, whitewashed barn siding, hewn timbers and an 18’ NanaWall evoke lightness and soften the transition from building to landscape. A fold-down bed and galley kitchen hide behind folding wall panels, enabling the space to adapt to its assigned uses.
For an active young family, this 6,800 square foot project transformed a working nineteenth century barn into modern recreation space. Essential to the project was maintaining the quiet vernacular feel of the barn in the landscape.
A gut renovation, work began with underpinning foundations and structural rehabilitation, and extended to all new windows & doors, systems and finishes, inside and out. The tall main barn now houses living space with lofts and adjacent half-court basketball. A one-story ell to the west includes a lodge-style man cave, exercise room, bath, ski room and garage, while the east ell is a garden shed and greenhouse.
The site is carefully preserved, including the front court and main doors through the barn, and a rustic fence & gate are added.
Nestled in the center of a rolling Litchfield County farm, the Lodge replaces an outdoorsman’s dilapidated cabin. Despite its irreparable condition, the old cabin was central to defining the character and spirit of the place, and maintaining its essence became the program priority for the new lodge.
For family retreats and recreation, the lodge encloses an attic bunk room, small bedroom, kitchen and living room. Of equal importance are the covered porch, sleeping porch and dining terrace with fireplace. A front door faces the vineyard across a farm lane. Opposite, porches and expansive windows maximize exposure to the pond and valley beyond. Porches with “tree” columns soften the transition from building to landscape.
Forms are derived from the rural, agricultural landscape. Materials such as fieldstone, Mine Hill granite, brainstorm siding, hemlock and eastern cedar timbers are gathered from the site or its immediate surroundings. Interior finishes are predominantly clear-finished woodwork, all reclaimed local materials such as chestnut floors, pine and hemlock walls, and limed oak doors and cabinets.
The heating-only system utilizes a high-efficiency propane-fired boiler with cast-iron baseboard radiation. Necessitated by the super-insulated perimeter, a modest air system provides fresh air and make-up air for the fireplace.
To insure the health of the pond and other proximate inland wetlands, conservation measures were essential to the project. They included: installation of subsurface recharge for roof water; designation of wetland buffer areas; construction of a protected, vegetated drainage basin; installation of native plantings, and ongoing remediation of the invasive species Phragmites australis.
For weekend living, program elements were conventional and included a main living space, kitchen, family room, dining room, porches, 4 bedrooms and play space for a young family. The house was to incorporate the timber frame from an early 19th century Dutch cow barn from Upstate New York.
The building site is a sloping clearing high in the swale connecting Segar and Bull Mountains in Kent. It is a remote location, characterized by a long, steep, dirt road ascent through a hemlock and oak forest, opening to a mountain meadow with long southerly views over Bull’s Bridge and Long Mountain. Structure on the site is limited to a modest cabin, overgrown wood road and random portions of failed stone fences; but nothing to impart geometry.
Two barn-like volumes are arranged around a loose court to establish a fundamental vernacular relationship to the rustic landscape, and rationale for the barn frame. The strength of the simple forms tolerates sculpting without losing meaning, thus the inherent incompatibility of antique frame and its newly adopted program offers opportunity; connecting elements, extensions and subtractions can be created, each capable of illuminating the relationship.
Centering the family, the interior is interconnected in plan and section. The Great Room with massive hearth lies at the center, enabled by deep “swiggle beams” that once supported haylofts. Living spaces surrounding the Great Room each fall within the antique frame, including outdoor spaces and an attic loft demised by glass. Where the frame is exposed to the south creating porches, the sloping site affords an elevated stage overlooking the view and lower landscape.
The barn’s simple stylistic aspirations result in a plain but textured interior of timbers, plaster, oak floors, blued steel and glass. Structural and architectural insertions are made distinct from the antique frame to retain its clarity.