Thomas Phifer and Partners' Salt Point House in New York
Constructed of elegantly efficient and economical materials, this 2200 square foot house in New York’s Hudson Valley is sited on a meadow with views to a small private lake. Relatively solid on the long north and south facades, the house opens to the landscape to the east and west. On the eastern end, tucked into the surrounding woods, a double height entry/stair hall welcomes guests and allows for an immediate understanding of the home’s organization: living spaces downstairs, sleeping and work spaces upstairs. At the west end a double height porch connects the two levels, extending the living area downstairs while allowing views to the lake from the bedrooms upstairs.
From the lower level living spaces, continuous slot windows in the north and south walls frame distinct views of the landscape, connecting the house to its surroundings. At the upper level, carefully sculpted skylight enclosures offer glimpses of the changing sky throughout the day and night.
To allow for economy in construction, the massing of the house is a compact, rectangular box. All of the building and finish materials were carefully selected for function, durability, and especially, economy. At the interior, the walls, floors, and ceilings are all clad in economical and durable maple plywood. Custom furniture pieces and interior cabinetry are
constructed of the same plywood. Standard, commercial fluorescent light fixtures are recessed into narrow slots in the plywood to provide inexpensive, but elegant lighting. Exterior stainless steel screen panels on the north and south facades are held a few inches off the main structure to protect the house from the extremes of both the summer sun and
the winter winds. The perforated screens shade the exterior face of the house creating a thermal buffer which helps to keep the interior cool.
The house was carefully sited to take advantage of the prevailing summer breezes. Strategically placed operable windows and ventilating skylights allow the breeze to flow through the home. The natural ventilation at the interior in combination with the shading effect of the exterior sunscreens work together to keep the house comfortable, without air conditioning, throughout the warm summer months.
Salt Point House has made it through to the shortlist of six houses for the WAN House of the Year 2007 award. One of these six houses will be named the overall winner next Friday 15 February.
The jury's comment:
The judges were impressed by this scheme’s section, its contextual image and its passive approach to climatic extremes. The solar protective perforated metal screens dematerialize the building in its context, its simple geometry acting as a counterpoint to the overwhelming treescape.