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Monday, April 27, 2009

Putney House, Vermont, United States

Kyu Sung Woo Architects design rural abode set on Putney Mountain, Vermont

Situated on the south and west facing slopes of Putney Mountain, Vermont this house engages the landscape and reinterprets the simple volumes of Vermont rural architecture. Three clearings in the forest punctuate the long gravel driveway and provide views of meadow, pond and house. In the final clearing, the house is broken into three volumes arrayed around a large rock outcropping with open spaces that frame vistas of the Green Mountains. The volumes follow the contours of the slope stepping up the hill to engage the site while a planned addition continues the sweep of the volumes along the slope.

Each volume has a distinct programmatic function: a shed volume serves as a workshop and storage outbuilding, and two connected volumes form the main living quarters of the house: one volume serves as private family living space and the other serves as a public studio and meditation space. The house provides a weekend gathering place for three generations of family from around the region. Three main bedrooms are arranged to provide privacy while children’s rooms with play lofts are integrated with the public areas.

The house is designed for maximum contact with the exterior, reinterpreting local building materials with stained Western Red Cedar siding and corrugated steel, while protecting the occupants from the harsh winters and hot summer days of southern Vermont. Three outdoor spaces, each with a unique exposure, allow connection to the environment throughout the day. A south facing sliding glass wall extends the kitchen/dining space outdoors with an eighteen foot clear opening. The studio space extends west through a sliding glass door to a wood-lined screen porch and a view of the mountain forests beyond. A shaded stepped central gravel courtyard provides relief from the sun on summer days. Narrow window openings on the north walls protect the house from winter winds while promoting cross ventilation in the summer months.

On the interior, the studio space is minimally detailed with white plaster walls and an acoustic fabric ceiling for piano recitals while the living quarters are selectively clad in local granite, maple and mahogany woods to impart a feeling of warmth. The building is framed entirely in dimensional lumber with a prefabricated wood truss providing a large span opening at the kitchen/dining area.

In keeping with the sensitive and isolated site, the house is off the grid with roofmounted photo voltaic panels providing electricity. Thick walls are encapsulated by high performance insulation and staggered wood stud construction minimizes thermal bridging to the interior in the winter months. Large aluminum windows admit abundant natural light to counteract Vermont’s short winter days while overhangs provide summer shading. Wood stoves fueled with felled trees from the site are supplemented by radiant heat floors.
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