Amalgam Studio’s stunning light-filled new house for a single family is a modern take on the local, historic barns of the Hudson River Valley. The recently completed 3 level, 4 bedroom house for a young family sits atop a mountainside on 120 acres, near the quaint village of Rhinebeck in upstate New York, and is designed to adapt over time from a weekender to a full-time residence.
Project Name: Silvernails
Architect Name: Amalgam Studio LLC
Inspired by the rural setting, a long linear barn-like main house and a secondary carriage-house, were placed around an open field and swimming pool, reminiscent of traditional farmstead arrangements.
- Modern Vernacular
“Modern relates to the latest in material technology, contemporary aesthetics, open-planning, detailing, linear configuration, state-of-the-art energy efficiency and comfort levels.
Whereas Vernacular relates to the shape, massing, siting, visual language, construction methodology, materiality and durability of the historic, traditional, local architecture.”
- Barn-Like Concept
A study into the local, historic barns types of Dutch, English and New England heritage informed decisions towards interior planning, overall massing, and the strong gable form. These archetypical barns also inspired the use of exposed structural framework, cathedral ceilings, loft spaces, large sliding glass ‘barn’ doors, natural stone cladding to the basement walls, wood lining to the interiors, and timber cladding to walls and roofing.
- Structural Methodology
The 100ft long main house structure is made up of fourteen repetitive, charred, prefabricated Douglas Fir ‘bent frames’, which were raised one-by-one from the horizontal and bolted upright into place.
“Much like the traditional community barn-raising events of the past, the entire timber structure of the home was raised in one day”
- Sustainability & Energy Efficiency Features
“From the very beginning the clients wanted a comfortable house. I believe it would have been irresponsible for me not to look at and ultimately follow Passive House standards.”
Specifically, the house employs a high-performance facade of super-insulation, air-tight membranes, rain screens and triple glazing throughout. Adjustable exterior sunshading devices and in-wall heat-recovery ventilation units, help ensure an adaptable and comfortable interior environment year round.
Operable windows and sliding doors are positioned to encourage cross-ventilation.
Heating is provided with fireplaces and wood stoves, or with energy-efficient multi-split heat-pump air-conditioning systems.
All appliances are electric, lighting is LED: the house uses no fossil fuels.
- Exterior Materiality
Exterior cladding is plantation softwood treated to exhibit hardwood characteristics. It is maintenance-free, unpainted, unstained, insect and mold resistant, and dimensionally stable.
“Kebony was applied as a rainscreen to all outside walls and entirely covers the roof, using a unique, innovative clip system atop the standing seams of the metal sheeting under – a first for a private home in North America”
- Interior Materiality
Local materials informed interior finish selections. Tree species endemic to the wooded site were selected for warmth and character: white oak for flooring and lining, walnut for cabinetry, hickory for feature vanity units.
Local granite, slate and domestic quarried marble guided choices for the chimney hearth, wet areas and master ensuite respectively.
- Natural Light
Daylighting is harvested by multiple skylights to the loft.
The central skylights over the stairwell span the entire width of the house separating the house into zones of public and private.
Tilt-up sunscreen devices create an ever-changing poetic play of sunlight and shadow throughout the day along the entire length of the house’s main corridor.
“Ultimately, it’s a house that plays with light”