Rustic retreat

Centerbrook completes energy-effiecient family home with views of the lake

by James 11 January 2010
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    This rustic house for a couple with three grown children and a large extended family is nestled in a northeast forest with lake views. Connected shed roofs aim at the water and the sun, providing deep overhangs to shade porches with tall columns that support a solar screen of indigenous logs. These rhythmically placed natural shades invite the sun’s warming winter rays, but keep the house cool in summer. The first floor flows seamlessly into the outdoors and onto a sitting porch through folding glass walls that open from side to side, merging interior and exterior into one great living space.

    Inside, the main house is united by an arcing two-storey hall that doubles as a grand entry. Lined with walls made from local stones at the first floor, it has a catwalk balcony above leading to bedrooms and a studio. The hall serves as the main street for the house, connecting the garage and service rooms in the west with the kitchen and finally the living room at the east.The house collects the sun’s heat through the full-height windows behind the porches and stores it in the masses of masonry walls and the chimney. Full-depth icynene insulation and tight wood-framed windows further minimise energy needs.

    A closed-loop geothermal system and a super-efficient Russian wood stove heat the house. Hydronic radiant heat in the principal living areas is particularly effective in the high spaces, putting the heat at the living level where it is sensed, thus lowering the required water temperature and energy use. Multiple zones and the house’s programmable thermostats also minimise energy usage.

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