Last month in our “Naturally Artificial Post” we discussed how context can inform an architectural response and tie the place to the functions of the program. This enhances the sense of place and creates strong exterior connections. We gave specific examples from the “Hub House” at Coffee Ridge. Let’s discuss another example only this time let’s dive into a private residence.
Treeline Home, as the name implies, sits at the edge of a forest overlooking a nearby meadow and the mountains of East Tennessee. As previously discussed, a successful contextual design responds to context through layout, form, material, and scale.
How do we start? The team began by evaluating the characteristics of the forest, meadow, and surrounding mountains and how those characteristics compare to the needs of the client and program. This site evaluation resulted in two juxtaposing realizations.
The Forest versus The Meadow
How can the Forest and the Meadow, two different contexts, be not only expressed but pragmatically beneficial to the architecture and client needs? To answer this question we had to study the program and also found juxtapositions within the program itself. We found that every new home needs two different program functions. This includes both public space (living, dining, kitchen) and private space (bedrooms and baths). These two program types had two contrasting needs related to connection and privacy. Blending the contrast of Public vs Private and Forest vs Meadow became the heart of how Treeline home came to be.
The Layout and Planning
A forest naturally offers cover and protection from the elements. The combination of trees and shrubs provides an inwardly focused condition that limits view and offers a sense of privacy. The meadow on the other hand offers a sense of openness and a strong visual connection to the mountains beyond. This understanding began to inform the layout of Treeline home where the private spatial needs of the owner’s suite were set to focus on the forest and offer cover and seclusion. In contrast, the public spaces would focus on the meadow and the big open mountain views conducive to the public space of the living areas. In the image above you can see a green view shed indicating a private forest connection while the yellow indicates the connection between the living area and the meadow. Simply organizing the home in this manner increases the architectural response and heightens the home’s sense of place among the forest and mountains.
Form and Material
Going back to the meadow and forest study, we wanted the form and the material of the building to respond in a similar, contextual way as the layout. To do so we thought of the tree canopy of the forest and the ground of the mountains and meadow. The tree trunks, branches, and canopy of the forest are conceptually similar to the posts, wood beams, and roof covering of Treeline home. This frame-like structure then sits on top of a solid mass of brick and masonry relating the home to the solidity of the mountains. This material connection along with the “walk-out” basement configuration and outreaching retaining walls anchor the home to the surrounding geology as it visually begins to blend into the landscape.
Treeline home is a great architectural response to the mountains of East Tennessee and the specific surroundings of the forest and meadow. The blending of nature and structure gives the client a place to enjoy the surrounding outdoors without sacrificing the comforts of home.
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