This residence is blessed with an extraordinary setting. Located a mile from Thoreau’s Walden Pond, the house sits on a gentle knoll overlooking the Sudbury River to the south. On its northern flank lies a typical New England farm field bounded by stone walls and trees. To the east and west of the house are woodlands of varying species. A gently winding road through the woodlands leads the homeowner and visitors to the house.
The client asked us to improve on the qualities of the original design, which we undertook following the design and construction of the house’s shell. In particular, we sought to coordinate the relationships between interior space, and we created connections to the landscape through the careful placement of windows. We ensured that the details of screens, stairs and fireplaces were fully integrated and beautifully crafted. The client, an artist trained in Japan, felt a strong affinity for elements of Japanese vernacular architecture, yet she was equally enthusiastic about contemporary technologies and processes. Therefore, she sought ways in which the elements of her house could address these influences.
For example, the design and construction of the stair, its screens, and balconies, integrate the scale, texture and craft of Japanese screens, while simultaneously combining contemporary materials/processes, such as steel and stainless steel hardware. Thin vertical strips of cedar are fastened to stainless steel rods, which in turn are anchored to slender steel frames. This twelve-foot-high assembly is suspended between the stair and the balcony. Horizontally oriented screens are anchored to the balconies and bridges. When the setting sun streams through the living room, intricate shadow patterns (created by the overlap of horizontal and vertical screens) are cast on a plaster wall. This, among many other elements, contributes to the experience of this house uniquely rooted in its specific site.