Posted by: Scott McCullough | August 2, 2011

Design Concept

For the past 9 months or so Jess and I have been trying to pin down the details for the house that we’ve designed to go on the site.  Coming up with the concept seemed to be the easy part since now we’re figuring out how to put it all together.

From the beginning of our discussions we have always been in agreement about a number of different qualities that the house should have.  The basic words that kept coming up were: small, simple, modern, energy efficient, site responsive, comfortable, durable.  Once certain parameters were assumed it didn’t take long to decide on the size, shape, location and orientation of the structure.

For the frame of the house we both thought it made good sense to do a timber frame.  We figured what was the sense of purchasing 2x framing material from a lumber yard to build a conventional frame when we had a whole forest full of trees that we could cut and saw as timbers.  The idea that we could have such a direct line from tree to building frame was an opportunity that we could not pass up.  Timber frames are generally very well insulated buildings because of the fact that the frame is wrapped in rigid insulation, with much less thermal bridging than a conventional stick frame building.

The skin of the house was important to us as it obviously defines the exterior aesthetic.  We were interested in the idea that the building shape is void of any trim or roof overhangs.  We had seen other examples of buildings with spaced screening on the walls and roof and we loved the way it retained the simple geometric form of the gable.  The screening will be vertical natural wood, either pine or hemlock so that it will gray over time and blend into the surrounding forest.

The model above shows the basic idea of the house. The central portion of the south side has the maximum amount of glass to take advantage of solar gain.  Solar photo-voltaic and solar thermal panels on the roof, and a walkout basement below.  At this point the deck off the east end was in need of some design attention as well as the window layout, but that would all come together later.

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