Text description provided by the architects. This low-maintenance, year-round luxury home, located in Ghent, NY (Upper Hudson Valley) features a variety of green building methodologies. It also addresses the client’s request for a home with connections and views to the outdoors, accommodations for a multi-generational family (four bedrooms), a flexible studio space for the wife’s artwork and a below-grade wine cellar for the husband’s winemaking. The sloping site and limited budget all created unique opportunities in the creation of a custom home that could exist comfortably off the grid.
The first challenge was to maximize the million-dollar views of the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains to the West while controlling the winter winds and summer sun from the same direction. The elongated rectilinear plan, kept simple to minimize cost, is oriented to the West to ensure every room had access to the views. A majority of the house is lifted on concrete columns to maximize the views and also provide a covered ground plane for protected parking and outdoor living. As part of the budget strategy, future additions to the house can be built on this ground level within the existing structure.
The narrow cross section also means cross breezes can easily cool the house in the summer and the winter sun can reach far into the interior. Mapos conducted extensive solar studies in order to design a custom screen on the West façade that would shade the house from the heat of the summer sun, block western winds, and allow the penetration of winter sun in the colder months. These winter rays can be absorbed by concrete floors throughout the house to augment the heating system. The passive strategies mean that the house was well on its way to better efficiency before the mechanical systems and technologies were even considered in the design process.
For the structure, Mapos devised a hybrid system of concrete, steel, and Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), each strategically utilized to create a lightweight, rigid, and highly energy efficient shell. Combining structure, sheathing, and insulation in one product, the SIPs panels were installed throughout the house in only three days. For the building envelope, a long-lasting steel standing-seam roof capped maintenance-free fiber-cement board cladding. The windows and patio doors, all made from super low-E insulated glass, open onto the amazing views and give easy access to expansive decks and a pool terrace.
The interior, totaling 3,500 square feet (325 square meters), emphasizes a careful economy of materials which respond to the client’s preference for exposed materials and highlights of bold color. The interior palette includes buffed concrete countertops and floors with radiant heat, precast concrete tiles, no-and low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and clear-coat finishes, LED lighting systems, Energy Star appliances, water-sense fixtures, and wood treads reclaimed from on-site structural members.
The design also utilizes shaded window systems, deep overhangs, high ceilings, and light colors to maximize natural passive cooling, while geothermal heating and cooling with radiant in-floor heating guarantee year round comfort on even the harshest days. The house also features the next generation of roof integrated PV technology. The long sloping roof culminates in a below-grade rainwater reclamation cistern for irrigating the client’s extensive organic vegetable garden.