This project has taken place over the course of several seasons. The client wished to create a place that he and his family could grow into and explore. With over 100 acres in Delaware County, New York, and a small farmhouse sitting halfway up a south-west facing hillside, the place offered many phenomenal aspects to respond to in design.
The farmhouse was completely gutted down to the original studs and stone foundation, revealing a patchwork of construction done in multiple phases by farmer/homeowners since it’s original construction in the mid 1800’s. The house as we found it was a series of small spaces that were focused inward, towards the warmth of the hearth and the comfort of “indoors”. The original entry sequence followed a traditional model of entering the front off the street, despite the fact that the house sits several hundred yards away from a road that you cannot see.
The design began by re thinking the sequence of entry and movement from moving uphill facing away from the light and view, to moving across and downhill progressing toward the expanse of the valley. The arrival to the valley begins at the road, forking off onto a dirt driveway that turns to a relatively steep grade up through a grove of trees and along fields to the house. One parks slightly uphill from the house and traverses along the countour lines of the hillside to enter through a protruding mudroom volume that catches the occupant and shifts their orientation into the house. Once inside, an opened up living/dingin/kitchen is divided no longer by walls, but rather by structural column, material, and the spatial relationship of an exterior porch and roof that creates a sequence of openings to the light and view of the valley. The spaces are made to both receive and project to the views of outside as the landscape is the primary reason for the clients to spend time at the house.
The process of design and construction has taken place in various conditions, with various groups of builders/craftsmen who have experienced the place while building it, and therefore helped shape the character of the place. Many of the ideas that have found their way into the project took a long time to mature and be realized. The client was an integral part of the process every step of the way, and as the project progressed, his knowledge and understanding of design and construction grew to a point where he joined in the making of his house… going as far as turning a two car garage into a home workshop. We will be developing and building new parts of this project for years to come.
Erik Nelson, Structures Workshop
...and can't forget Cameron Breck!