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Ridge House | Chittenden County, VT
PROCESSWe believe that a collaborative approach to design achieves the most rewarding results.
For new construction projects, we prefer to be a part of the design team from the beginning. In the case of this proposal for a new house in the wooded hills east of Burlington, Vermont, the Clients brought on the landscape architect first to develop some initial studies for the house location and driveway approach. The property is a series of folds in the bedrock forming narrow north-south ridges and west-facing cliffs with deep valleys between them. Indicative of ancient continental collisions millions of years ago, many of these ridges offer views east to the prominent Camel’s Hump in the Green Mountains and west to Lake Champlain and New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The Clients’ desire is to slide a linear structure delicately through the pristine forest of shagbark hickory, chestnut oak and white pine, and groundcover tapestry of blueberry, ferns and woodland grasses on top of one of the ridges, and then gently rest it against the unique ledge outcroppings. It is important that this quiet family retreat wrapped in unspoiled nature also captures the sunrises and sunsets and allows enjoyment of the rugged scene whether you are inside or out.
Initial studies began with a thorough analysis of the topographical survey and natural conditions of the land. We then identified a general house location on the ridge that is most accessible via the old logging road and a driveway approach that will potentially offer a welcoming view to the house while maintaining a reasonable climb up the east-facing slope. Also identified were concepts for seamless integration of building and land, outdoor spaces and places of circulation using the existing ledge. These basic concepts helped to inform the direction of the house design when the architect, Bill Maclay, came on board.
Through work sessions and site walks with the Clients, Bill Maclay and associates are exploring floor plan layouts and building elevations while we are exploring landscape places and connections to the house. At the same time, we are ‘spinning and sliding’ the footprint along the ridge to best capture the solar exposure and views while preserving the essence of the site. The result will likely be a house that sinks into a rock outcrop on the north end and floats above the soft groundcover on the south end.
Stay tuned for updated sketches and plans.
Photography by Susan Teare