House in the Berkshires

In the Berkshire Mountains of NW Connecticut, on a wooded hillside with a pastoral view, the landowner wished to build a house that would blend with the natural surroundings and feel indigenous to its site. Using a natural palette featuring stone and wood, the architecture was composed to blend with the topography, and to create a series of interior spaces that were in harmony with the landscape in which they were placed. The making of the building involves the expression of craft and those that made it – masons, carpenters, blacksmiths and the like.

Design Challenge

The goal of the design was to express nature through the assembly of its component parts, with a palette of materials blending with its surroundings. Wood and stone were extracted from the site, alongside of other similar materials chosen to reflect harmony with the natural and indigenous surroundings. As the site was prepared for construction, stone was removed and stockpiled for use in the construction of the walls that rose from the ground, supporting the house’s structure of wood, steel, and glass. The configuration of structural elements and their connections is honestly expressed, allowing the viewer to read of the logic of the structure. Symbolically, a not-quite-straight oak tree trunk column was placed beside the front door, signaling the entry and contrasting straight steel columns & beams alongside, inserted alongside to support the new structure.

Physical Context

Containing visible rock outcroppings and mature trees, the sloping site faces predominately southeast with views across cornfield and river to mountains beyond. The building was oriented primarily to enjoy morning light. The intent of the design is to merge the structure with the landscape. Responding to the topography, the house emerges from the brow of the hill and is arranged in response to physical features and view opportunities. The resulting form is rendered in indigenous natural materials of wood and stone, combined with man-made components of steel and glass.