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Rural Retreat, Wainscot, New York, United States

Saturday 22 Nov 2008

Re-shaping the landscape

Images: Michael Moran Photography 
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New York retreat plants it's roots. 

The primary challenge was to design for the needs of a yet-to-be-determined client. Another significant question was how to root the house to the earth; the nearly flat site in a young growth forest offered no footing. We responded by reshaping the topography, establishing the first level slightly below grade and sculpting the surrounding terrain into a gentle rise. In addition to anchoring the house, this also allowed the visible volume to be reduced, and enabled the creation of indoor/outdoor spaces that are at once secluded, yet very open to their surroundings.

The house functions (physically and psychologically) on multiple levels – as much an intimate retreat for two (or one) as an accommodating host to an extended family (or numerous guests) – thus promoting multiple, overlapping narratives. Above, the public face; contained, controlled, consistent. Below, the private sphere; free-wheeling and spontaneous. We chose to embrace, rather than deny, this inherent ambivalence – a duality that is universal to the human condition.

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TsAO & McKOWN Architects

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