NEW HAMPSHIRE RETREAT
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Situated north of the presidential range in the White Mountains, the New Hampshire retreat is composed as a series of autonomous rooms— each operating as a frame to capture the view of surrounding mountaintops. Programs of the retreat unfold as a linear sequence, from service areas on one end, to bedroom suites on the other. Designed as simple orthogonal volumes, the rooms of the house pivot around an elliptical plan; each rotation is calibrated for a specific view. Inverting the logic of the Panopticon, the retreat looks both into its voided core, and out towards the landscape. In turn, the circulation is lined along the inner length of the ellipse, producing a promenade that captures both the domestic scene of the court on one side and the sublime silhouette of the presidential range on the other. The resulting spaces between rotated volumes become shared exterior patios extending programs of the interior to the outdoors.
The architectural challenge of this project is how to invent a building type that simultaneously accommodates the local and the global conditions of the building: that is, how to negotiate between the logic of each room formed by a rectangle, and the ellipse that brings coherence to the structure as a whole. While the orthogonal logic of each room offers a structural simplicity, the ellipse creates a powerful figure that is larger than the sum of the architectural parts, bowing to the sublime panorama as a series of distinct frames.
The entry to the house is the most important figural moment. A structural vault is formed in conformance to the slope of a stair that ascends to the roof. The vault is created by the “un-ruling” of the northern façade to create a canopy for the entry of the building: a deep threshold between the vehicular drop-off, the courtyard, and the main living area.
The joints that link each of the rooms are customized, grafting the surfaces of one room to another such that the differences of each space is maintained, while a new and continuous whole is formed by the eradication of conventional thresholds from space to space. We have developed an architectural joinery of cartilage, ligaments, and tendons that craft connections between each volume. The completed circuit of rooms encloses an interior courtyard. This private outdoor space—a natural sanctuary—is a foil to the rugged landscape of the New Hampshire forests just outside the envelope.
The material development of the building—its tectonics—further articulates the dialogue between its jointed and disjointed parts. Within the context of a wood-stud framing structural system, each volume of the house is to be fabricated on the most basic and forgiving tolerances; each box is its own house, and can be phased accordingly also. At the same time, the joints are geometrically specific, rarified and part of a custom kit of parts that offer continuity of spaces, surfaces, and forms. A vertical cladding of white cedar tongue-in-groove siding is construed as the basis of a tectonic system that is then further elaborated with vertical fencing, louvers and board & batten system, each articulating a differentiated part of the building under the banner of a unified system.
Thus, doors are camouflaged by board-and-batten siding, the inner court is fenced in by a vertical wood stud system, and the cladding rotates to become louvers in the outdoor shower—all as a way of giving cohesion to varied functional parts. In the context of the main entry vault, the cladding system is radicalized by rotating the siding from a vertical to horizontal orientation one slat at a time—a ruled surface: a continuous field of striated wood slats that create the developable surface. The figural elements of the building are brought into alignment with the tectonic units of assembly; our bias in creating an organic relationship between the part and whole of the building is respected by adhering to the material logic of assembly on the one hand, and using the means and method of assembly as a constraint for spatial and formal manipulation.
Principals In Charge: Nader Tehrani, Katherine Faulkner, AIA
Project Coordinator: Ryan Murphy
Project Team: Marta Guerra, Tim Wong, John Houser, Sergio Verrillo, Tom Beresford, Alda Black, Laura Williams, Wes Hiatt, Lisa LaCharité