LocationDarien, United States
Architect in ChargeErich Schoenenberger + Ferda Kolatan
Construction FirmPrutting & Company
Project ManagerHart Marlow
Text description provided by the architects. This single-family home is a new construction, which had to adhere to the L-shaped plan and overall building envelope of an older house. In addition to these external constraints, three major components drove the conceptual ideas for the project: The context (geographical/historical), the specific treatment of the building envelope, and spatial-programmatic continuity. In combination, these three aspects aimed to create a unique house with a bold contemporary expression without appearing too alien to its environment.
We took our initial inspiration from the barn, a popular building type in Connecticut. We were mainly interested in two of the characteristics of this type. First, we wanted to anchor the project within a historical and geographical context. Second, we were intrigued by the abstract qualities of these compelling objects. Their specific treatment of volume, apertures, and overall geometry interested us as tools to estrange conventional ideas of residential housing.
We began by altering the original L-shaped volume through carving maneuvers in response to functional and programmatic elements. For instance, the partial outward leaning of the second floor results in a deepening of the façade and therefore a better shading/thermal performance for the bedrooms. It also allows for cutting back roof overhangs, thus accentuating the volumetric character of the design, while still protecting the outside perimeter. Other carvings reflect programmatic and circulatory conditions of the interior and create deliberate distortions of the envelope, which play with our concepts of perspective and depth-of-field.
On the interior the angular play of the façade generates thick walls for programmatic use and spatial continuity. The client’s wish for openness, maximization of views and light is met without sacrificing functionality or usability. The geometrical pivot point of the L-shape becomes the spacious double-height stairwell/entrance area around which activities such as cooking, dining, playing, relaxing, entertaining, etc. organize freely and without strict demarcations.