Honor Award: a house named Fred

Honor Award: a house named Fred

Architect: in situ studio (visit website)

Location: Orange County, NC
100 Word Description: The house rises above the gentle topography near Duke Forest and is located to capture forest views and take advantage of the natural rhythms of light and air.  Our clients are very private, and the program is formatted to separate the moment of arrival from the main living spaces.  The house is low and long beneath the tree canopy, slightly lifted above the ground, with punctuations in the walls and roof that play off views of the forest.  A folded metal skin shelters the house, providing protection on the north side and opening to the south to admit generous light.
Architect’s Statement: Our clients are a very private couple who desired a house that would provide separation from the world beyond their site and accommodate their opposing daily routines.  Their property is buried in the woods, adjacent to Duke Forest, and slopes north.  They arrive at the house via a long drive at the west end and first enter a space they refer to as the “lock and core.† Here, they leave keys, shoes, jackets, and hats behind and enter a long gallery hall that bypasses the private spaces of the house and leads east to the main living spaces.  The living room frames views of the forest, near and far, and features a small area for an antique Steinway.  At the east end of the house, off the living room, is a deck that reaches to within feet of the forest edge, under the folded metal roof.  The private spaces are arranged for their opposing schedules.  When she wakes early, she leaves the small bedroom and has all she needs to prepare for the day without returning.  When he works late, he does so in a remote office that is sound proofed and located at the bend in the plan to dissipate sound.  The format of house is a direct translation of their desire for privacy, their schedules, and the best aspects of the site.
Type of Construction: The house is built of a wood frame on a concrete and CMU foundation.  Steel is used to achieve thin, cantilevered roof edges and extensions of the east deck and north porch.  The entire north wall and roof are wrapped in standing seam metal in a color selected to blend with the surrounding forest.  Five roof monitors reach towards views of the tree canopy.  The roof opens to the south to admit light.  The building envelope is sealed tightly with spray foam insulation.  A slab in the sealed crawlspace supports the mechanical systems, which include pumps for the geothermal ground loop, a hi-efficiency heat pump with three zones, and energy recovery ventilation.  In contrast to these sophisticated systems, operable windows allow the house to accept a breeze during pleasant weather.
Photography: Richard Leo Johnson / Atlantic Archives, Inc.