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The idea of a country cabin in the rural landscape is normally thought of as a luxury, and yet in 2020 and 2021, the necessity of social distancing, the possibilities of working productively online, and the dynamic nature of the family unit all point to the need for certain new forms of flexibility. The Poché House is a response to this complex array of programmatic possibilities, but it is also a project about overcoming the normative dichotomy between urban and rural living. Located ten minutes from the Wassaic train station and less than a three minute walk from the village center of West Cornwall, the house embodies a footprint whose relationship to New York City is as proximitous as its connection to the nature of the Housatonic River and the Berkshires.

THE PROMENADE AS PROGRAM: The house emerges from the basic premise to design for a range of possibilities that respond to the diverse ways in which a house may be reformatted based on seasons, economies and urgencies. It is a typological study on how a single device may bring varied possibilities to the same structure: a single staircase that winds around the periphery of the stacked one-room structure.

THE CIRCULATORY POCHÉ: The staircase in the peripheral zone defines a poché zone of five feet, using the diagonal of the stair to define areas of program below and above its rake. As such, the house is virtually exempt from corridors, as each inch of space is programmed in the thick wall between the room in the core and the external skin, beyond the stair.

SOLID WALL/HOLLOW WALL: The exterior wall is composed of pre-fabricated cross-laminated timber panels. The exterior wall houses the structural, environmental and water-proofing necessities of the house. The inner wall is conceived of as a balloon frame system, however, to allow for the infrastructure of the entire house. By thinking of them together organically, we are able to optimize lengths of ducts, the stacking of plumbing, and the efficiencies that are critical to a stick framed house.

FLEXIBILITY: While thought of as a three room home, the poché spaces offer a wide flexibility, housing anywhere from three to fifteen people without much complexity as each level provides a kitchenette, bathroom, and added sleeping areas in the poché zone. Three people could be easily redefined as three families, three apartments, three Airbnb’s, or a combination of a host with various rentals, in-law suites, and other such combinations that require both integration and autonomy.


Principal-in-charge: Nader Tehrani

Project Manager: Harry Lowd

Project Team: Arthur Chang, Alex Vilcu, Christian Borger, Tofan Rafati

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