The house shell is modular, the roof panelized, and the garage stick-built. All come together in this single-floor living space with ample light and light airy spaces with a high, open ceiling.
The owners report that not a day goes by that someone doesn’t stop to gawk about how well their house fits in, or remind them of their family cottage, a great compliment to our design. This is especially wonderful considering that it contains 4 stories of living space including a finished basement, has an efficient electric heat pump system for heating and cooling, is fully insulated to modern codes, meets all of the city’s stormwater requirements to keep Willard Beach clean, didn’t block neighbor’s views, contains a glass filled corner that feels like a solarium inside, and greets the street with a porch where interaction among neighbors is the norm.
A new home and studio for the Architects is comprised of their 1,750-square-foot house and an independent, 1,000-square-foot architectural studio. Sited on a previously undeveloped parcel of land in a Portland neighborhood, the challenge was to both fit the new structure into the rhythm of the neighborhood, and yet create the least disruption of the natural habitat.
Without question, the site itself informed the design of the building. We located the house at the ecotone – perching it on an overlook between a native wildflower meadow that provides relief from the bustle of the street and nestled up to the peacefulness of over a hundred acres of sanctuary land.
Positioning the house on the slope allowed for an embedded full-height lower level in the hillside. By building upward instead of outward, the house touches the land lightly, also reducing maintenance and heating costs.
The solar orientation further informed the house’s alignment, looking toward the narrow view of the Fore River tributary. The long side of the house faces true south so that the living spaces on the south and west receive sunlight all day and benefit from passive heat gain all winter. One desire was to use some design principles of Vastu Shastra, a traditional Indian system of architecture. As a result, the front door faces east where the rising sun shines into the house to start the day.
The mother trees to the south provide wonderful comfort and summer shade for the long wall of full-height glass, without the need for solar shades. Shares in a solar farm offset the electrical use to approach net-zero.
Adaptability is key for aging in place: The main stair is wider to allow either adding a chair lift, but if we decide on one-floor living, the screen porch can be readily converted to a primary bedroom.
The architecture studio is on the lower level. With one large space and services tucked along the perimeter, the lower level is also adaptable to future uses: architecture studio, apartment, or even a place for the ping-pong table. It has two entrances, one shared and one independent entrance.
The main approach has a gabled roof, punctuated windows, and nautically evoked wood detailing. The entry mudroom opens up into a large room with floor-to-ceiling glass framing the forest beyond. The living room floats out over the land, like a ship’s bow, making one feel as if being transported via ferry to the islands, leaving the city behind at your back. The room is bathed in sunlight that plays on the off-white walls, with pops of colorful art and objects.
The multifunctioning spaces: living, dining, kitchen all reside in one large volume. The washer and dryer are tucked under a built-in sideboard. With a small sink, the sideboard serves as a bar, serving counter, flower-arranging area, and extra pantry storage, as well as a laundry.
The initial design challenge was to integrate a new building type and new construction form into the historic campus. The designs respond to the historic context of Main Street in the Saco Historic Preservation District as well as a predominately red brick campus, which has evolved via several construction campaigns during its nearly 125 year history. The residential quality of other Main Street (and Academy) houses and historic detailing from the campus’ education buildings informed our design. We believe this approach has achieved a dormitory and future village that complements both the community of Saco and the Academy.
Locating the first dormitory building – Nelson Residence Hall – on a previously unoccupied lawn at the campus’ main entrance, now forms a gateway to the historic campus. The long axis of the dormitories faces south-southwest for optimal solar exposure and frames the entry to campus create greens or courtyards between each of the proposed buildings. The street façades, of this and the forthcoming buildings, are designed to establish the street rhythm found on Main Street south of the campus.
Nelson Residence Hall, completed in Summer 2009, is constructed with durable standing seam roofs and fiber-cement cladding in neutral colors that acknowledge existing patterns and textures found on campus buildings without resorting to mimicking the brick, which the project’s budget could not justify.
A tight building envelope with high thermal insulation performance was achieved with the use of ICF (insulated concrete forms) for the foundation and first floor walls and conventional framing with dense pack cellulose insulation at the second-floor level. The use of ICF benefits the interior architecture as its wall depth creates deep recesses at the windows adding a layer of space for use by the residents. ICF also allowed an economical and seamless construction season as the contractor was able to pour concrete walls throughout the winter without concern for special freeze protection. The ICF walls achieved a R-48, far exceeding any current energy code.
This seemingly modest project encompassed four classrooms, a central gathering place, lockers, and a lower level for crafts and makers’ space. The monumental task of creating a positive, immediate presence on its 17-acre site, planning for the future build-out of a kindergarten through eighth grade campus with auditorium, playing fields, gymnasium, library, and shop facility, and also serves the school’s immediate programmatic requirements within a constrictive budget. Site planning included provisions for all new infrastructure with allowances for complete build-out. Careful consideration was given to a required DEP / NRPA approvals process and Freeport’s Planning Board approvals process. Barba Architecture worked closely with landscape architects, traffic engineers, the town planner and town engineer, to achieve full compliance. Wright-Ryan Construction was the Construction Manager and the contractor.
In addition to the nuts and bolts aspects of this project, the school had unique functional and aesthetic requirements, which we continually kept at the fore when making all planning decisions. Student activities, which include movement, art, music, and storytelling, had to be accommodated in a structure, which allowed for these activities in a light-filled, quiet building that has a sense of containment, yet is not static. By embodying this particular community’s philosophies and aesthetic we created a building which is both exciting and beautiful. The school design brought about a creative solution to a complex problem within a restrictive budget. Design, approvals, and construction were remarkably completed in one year from start to finish.
This property is situated on freshwater McCurdy Pond and includes a complex of summer cottages that date to the 1930s. Over the past thirty years, the owner developed this compound, adding a salvaged 19th century carriage barn, converting a boathouse, and enlarging the original teahouse. The main house, presented here, is the newest in the collection and allows for year-round living. The house is a tripartite design with a central block and flanking wings. The owners love of the Craik-Patton House of 1834 in Charleston, West Virginia inspired the design.
I was able, first-hand, to observe Nancy and Cynthia’s collaborative style as we worked together to turn my rough ideas into a masterpiece. They are good with deadlines, thorough with details, cooperative with client ideas and deliver award-winning results.
– The Very Rev’d Stephen W. Foote, Retired Dean of St. Luke’s Cathedral
The program includes a two-story central hall with living, dining and kitchen, and a guest loft above. Flanking this central hall are two smaller wings, each with bedroom and bath. The wings have dramatically differing character, reflecting the wishes and design philosophies of the couple; one is modern and glass filled, while the other is traditional. Each of the main architectural elements is situated upon one of the two main axes, forming a cross. The classically proportioned form of the exterior collects the distinct objectives of the two owners, celebrating them carefully at each gable end. The modern gable of the west wing is fully glazed from base through pediment; the traditional gable of the east wing presents a Palladian window and solid pediment; the gable at the south-facing kitchen has a traditional base, culminating in a fully glazed pediment; finally, the formal entrance facade is dominated by a Vitruvian-proportion colonnade with 24-inch diameter Tuscan order columns.