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.