First Sketches

The first sketches — some from the first site visit, some from shortly thereafter — are more of a way to get ideas out of my head than they are actual proposals. On one hand it’s good to capture the visceral reaction, the sense of the place while physically present; on the other, the first ideas are not always the best, and so getting them down on paper allows me to interrogate them, discard them, move on, explore other avenues.

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First Site Visit: Siting the House for Poetry and Passive Design

My first visit to the site: a cold, cloudy January day, the landscape rendered in shades of gray-blue and brown. The owners and I trekked across the expansive property — the “finger fields” to the north, the ridge of the former railway, the plateaus and wooded hillsides — searching for the right location for the house.

In the end we all agreed on a south-facing hillside with expansive views of a meadow and a pond, a large stand of trees to the west, and a winding approach through a small field and a wood. It was practical — close enough to the road for access and utilities — poetic — nestled into the earth, with just enough elevation to lend a sense of expansiveness to the views —and, importantly, ideal for passive design: the hill lent itself to earth berming; southern exposure allowed good solar access; and the western trees provided shading from harsh late-afternoon sun.

As simple as these features seem, they are critical for achieving high performance at reasonable cost. Continue reading “First Site Visit: Siting the House for Poetry and Passive Design”