South Elevation
South Elevation

Home_work: The argument that multi-family homes use fewer resources than single-family homes doesn’t carry much weight in this part of the United States, where citizens are fiercely protective of their independence. Homes, like big cars, are representations of success. Suburban homes WILL be built.  Architects in the past have not adequately addressed suburbia. Our intent is to provide a carefully designed, energy-efficient, live-work option to compete with the commuter model, saving both driving time and all the costs associated with cars.

 

The clients are a metal fabricator, who wants to live and work on top of this wooded hill, and his wife, who wishes to live more modestly. How do we accommodate their different needs? Design a home that is, literally, an observation platform, deflecting attention from itself by directing views back to the trees. This is the opposite of the suburban ‘McMansion’ prototype in which the trees are chopped down and the house reads as an object. Here the forest remains and the building is disguised. A roof garden mirrors the leaves of the trees. Guests may enter the building through what may be the world’s first living door, descending into the rooftop earth like Cocteau’s Orpheus entering the underworld. They may expect a cave experience but are greeted instead with unobstructed exterior views. The woods thus become an integral part of the home experience, providing the owners with oxygen, shade, privacy, and beauty.

 

The local woodlands are being displaced here as new homes are constructed. But 95% of this lot will remain untouched. Our plans include instructions to save every tree possible and to bury more than half the buildings area below grade. No fences will separate this home from its neighbors. Despite the home’s unconventional appearance, the neighbors support the construction because their walking paths will be preserved and their street views will remain unimpeded.

 

This is a home whose visual richness is progressively revealed. From below, it becomes clear that the roof floats above open living space. The automobile entry is deliberately unassuming. The interior plan is simple and open, leading to an interior that is filled with natural light at all times of the day.  The kitchen is the project’s conceptual and geographic center with the front entry, the living room, the greenhouse, the garage, and the deck only steps away.

 

And it’s green: We are reinforcing the building’s connection to nature by employing a variety of sustainable products and methods, including an intensive green roof, geothermal wells, radiant floors, recycled newspaper insulation, and insulated concrete foundations.  And we have employed shading devices that will block summer sun while allowing winter light to fill the interior. The interior plan is flexible and open, resulting in light-filled spaces that can be used for different purposes as needs change. This is ‘bottom-up’ architecture, in which affordable, easy-to-build strategies are employed to create extraordinary experience.

 

Working from home is good for the planet. Just as important, the building concept celebrates nature by displacing attention from the house back to the woods. A building that enhances its occupants’ perception of nature’s beauty is one that will encourage all who visit to better respect the environment.

 

The local woodlands are being displaced here as new homes are constructed. But 95% of this lot will remain untouched. Our plans include instructions to save every tree possible and to bury more than half the buildings area below grade. No fences will separate this home from its neighbors. Despite the home’s unconventional appearance, the neighbors support the construction because their walking paths will be preserved and their street views will remain unimpeded.

 

Ideas transcend style: We are reinforcing the building’s connection to nature by employing a variety of sustainable products and methods. The interior plan is flexible and open, resulting in light-filled spaces that can be used for different purposes as needs change. This is ‘bottom-up’ architecture, in which affordable, easy-to-build strategies are employed to create extraordinary experience.

 

Working from home is good for the planet. Just as important, the building concept celebrates nature by displacing attention from the house back to the woods. A building that enhances its occupants’ perception of natures beauty is one that will encourage all who visit to better respect the environment. The house, named by my intern, Seth, for it’s metal siding (and for Ben Stiller’s infamous modeling move in the movie, “Zoolander”) is located on the same wooded site as another FISHER ARCHitecture designed home, the earth-sheltered Ewing House, which should be complete by September.