Dutchess County Residence

Dutchess County, NYS

The following is an excerpt from a publication that showcased this residence.

Salt Point, New York is farm country. Scenic and pastoral with rolling hills, meadows and expansive forests; this hamlet is the antithesis of the noise and bustle of New York City, which is located only a two hour drive away.

It is in this serene setting that Sen Architects designed the 2012 winner of the SARA/ NY Design Award, a three bedroom home that is built into the hills and sited in a clearing surrounded by woods. The weekend getaway home was designed for a professional New York City couple and their two children. The family had rented in the area and was very appreciative of the surroundings, the nature and the nearby farm homes.

"They wanted to create a residence for themselves which would have minimal disturbance to the existing ecology and the visual condition of the surroundings," said Rashmi Sen, a principal at Sen Architects, LLP. The goal was to create a near zero use of energy and maintenance, so there is a near zero impact on the existing environment.

The home consists of two buildings, a main house and a studio. The main house is two levels, with two children's bedrooms on the first floor and the master bedroom upstairs on the second floor. The design of the home is all about connecting with the landscape, so Sen Architects designed seating areas in the main house both inside and outside. The rooms are laid out along a north south axis, which is the main circulation spine. Located next to the kitchen, there is a large great room with a living room and dining table. This space is open to the outdoors with large glass windows and two doors that go directly outside. There is also a screened porch with a trellis in the middle section that serves as an entrance into the space. According to Sen, the porch is one of the owner's favorite places in the home.

"It is used a lot actually," Sen said. "It's a nice vantage point where they can sit and enjoy the views and have some shade."

The studio is the smaller structure, located a short walk from the main house. The first floor of the studio has a carport and workshop with a little porch in the front. The main space on the second floor is an artist's studio, with a kitchenette and a deck on the backside that overlooks the farmland.

Having multiple smaller structures helps to make the home less imposing and stay consistent with the look of the surrounding farm houses that have various structures on each property, whether it be barns, sheds or garages.

"It also creates some dynamic between the spaces and it encourages people to walk out and go to the studio and engage more with the studio," Sen said.

The positioning of the home was one of the most important aspects of the design. The architects designed a simple sloped roof that emerges out of the hill in the back toward the south and opens up the main house to the southeast.

"They wanted minimal disturbance and they wanted eco-friendly, very sustainable design," Sen said. "They were willing to have a smaller house, but wanted to incorporate a lot of sustainable features in the design. The siting was very important because this is a forest, but after a careful study of the slopes, we located the house in a position where we could get the maximum use of solar orientation and at the same time get the benefit of the views of the meadow and the mountains in the distance."

Sustainability was one of the main goals of the program and the architects are aiming for a LEED Silver certification. There are geothermal wells for heating and cooling and solar panels that generate all of the hot water requirements as well as help to supplement the heating. The roof of the studio has photovoltaic panels for electricity and they generate more than 50 percent of the amount required for the home. The home is super insulated and airtight. It is both a passive and active solar home that is off the grid, easy to heat and cool and maintain.

Like many LEED certified buildings, this home is built largely out of glass. The architects used insulated glass, which opens up the home to its surroundings and allows natural light into the living spaces. Glass is used mainly in the southern and eastern facades of the house and on the triangular edges where the roof overhangs are.

"The roof appears to be really floating when you are inside the house," Sen said.

Sen Architects paired wood shingles with the glass panels, creating a warmth to counterbalance the sleek, modern look of the glass. Wood shingles are popular in the area and used on many of the homes in Dutchess County, where Salt Point is located. The structure consists of glulam beams along the long spans to support the conventional framed roof, which is made of a very reflective light aluminum

Sen Architects designed the home to be utilized year round, so whether it is snow in the trees or the sunshine reflecting off of the meadows, this Salt Point residence quietly blends into the area's beautiful landscape.

The landscaping was planned to appear as a continuum of the existing environment. The home was intergrated into the landscape, and the areas that were disturbed were planted with wildflowers, indigenous evergreens and berry bushes for year round maintenance free beauty.


Completion: March 2012
Project Cost: $1 M
Role of Firm: Prime Consultants, Construction Managers