Merkel Cooper Residence By In Situ studio

The house is set in a hill, just below the crest, overlooking a lake. The entry drive meanders through a hardwood forest and up the hill, approaching the house from the south. The first glimpse of the house is offered near the top of the drive, revealing the combined carport/entry and the service end of the main house volume. Public spaces are hidden on the north end of the house, opening to views of the lake and a deep valley filled with beech trees. A series of site walls negotiate between the steep slope and the simple house form.

Merkel Cooper Residence
Located:123 Honeydew Circle, Troutman, NC 28166
Completed: July, 2017
Designed for: Jeff Cooper and Lisa Merkel
Architect: in situ studio
704 North Person Street, Raleigh, NC  27604
919 397 3949
www.insitustudio.us
Contractor: Kelly Custom Builders, Inc.
144 Lynn Cove Lane, Mooresville, NC  28117
704 987 7755
www.kellycustombuilders.com
Structural engineer: Lysaght & Associates Structural Engineers
120 St Mary’s Street, Raleigh, NC  27605
919 833 0495
www.lysaghtassociates.com

© Keith Isaacs

The main level of the house is accessed through a combined carport/entry, composed as a series of layers – wood screen, banded glass wall, structure – that lead to an entry vestibule and the stair. Once inside, movement is around the kitchen volume and into the dining and living spaces. Here one first sees the lake and the beech forest in the valley below. The north end of the main level is a private deck that hovers at the edge of the valley precipice.  All bedrooms are upstairs, with the master at the north end to capture the same lake and valley views. A small “sanctuary” space is in the basement, at the bottom of the three-story stair. This space is for reading by the fire and accessing the lake trail.

© Keith Isaacs
© Keith Isaacs
© Keith Isaacs

The foundation and site walls for the house are parged concrete block, and the majority of the structure is wood. The large carport roof is structured to be a thin plane that extends off the west side and creates an arrival space. The large entry opening in the wall where the carport roof meets the main volume of the house is the only location where structural steel is used. The plan is arranged around a three-story stair that is the defining feature of the entry. Membrane roofs, cementitious plank and panel siding, and aluminum-clad wood windows make up the majority of the humble exterior material palette, with storefront windows used at larger openings and wood accents. The interior is made of sheetrock, wood floors, and simple tile. The contours of the space and generous supply of natural light animate this spare palette. Generous roof overhangs shuttle water away from the structure and provide shade. The house is a simple structure sited to maximize the experience of the hillside, forest, and distant lake.

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