The Edge House marks itself in the mountains of Northwest Connecticut with two curved walls in vertical cedar boards, one gray and one red. The latter acts as the house's spine and its circulation, also sheltering the occupants from prevailing winds. The gray wall is broken by rectilinear rooms on the other side of the house. At the end of the curve is the master bedroom, its bed cantilevered over the mountainside, capturing western views. Architect Bohlin Cywinski Jackson answered some questions about the house.
South Exterior ( Photo © : Matt Wargo )
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
Peter Bohlin was first approached by the clients at a book signing, at which time they asked if Peter would be interested in designing a house for them on the edge of a mountain outside of Kent, Connecticut. As a child Peter grew up only miles from Kent, and as a young architect Peter designed his first house for his parents ten minutes north of the proposed site. This deep-rooted connection to the area, coupled with the clients’ unique design interests, made for a perfect pairing between client and architect.
Living Room Interior ( Photo © : Matt Wargo )
Can you describe your design process for the building?
Like all of our projects, we work closely with our clients to make sure we provide a design that not only meets their needs, but creates a magical place that reflects their personalities. When we start our design process we typically ask the clients to provide a list of what they’re interested in accomplishing in their home. While we get the typical responses, we are more interested in developing the emotional responses. On this project our clients gave us responses like “we like the sound of rain falling on the roof” and “we want to feel like we’re outside when we’re sitting in the living room”. We worked hard to make sure that our clients could experience those desires in the completed project.
Master Bed ( Photo © : Matt Wargo )
How does the completed building compare to the project as designed? Were there any dramatic changes between the two and/or lessons learned during construction?
The completed building is quite similar to the conceptual drawings first sketched for the client at the beginning of the project. The plan has always been organized around the path of the sun as well as the existing edge of the forest, and the completed building emphasizes this concept. The long porch roofs allow the Owners to sit outside in the summer while allowing the winter sun to penetrate the living spaces, while the curved red cedar wall protects from the winter winds.
Concept Sketch ( Drawing © : Bohlin Cywinski Jackson )
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?
This house was designed to take advantage of passive cooling and heating strategies. The long porch roofs allow the Owners to sit outside in the summer while allowing the winter sun to penetrate the living spaces, while the curved red cedar wall protects from the winter winds. Operable windows on the west and south provide natural cooling, while small flipper doors at the head of the cantilevered bed allow the mountain breeze to pass over the bed at night.
Exploded Axonometric ( Drawing © : Bohlin Cywinski Jackson )
Floor Plan ( Drawing © : Bohlin Cywinski Jackson )