Introduction To The New House Project
The Design and Construction of the Oak Hill Road House
During the summer of 2013 we began construction of a new house, located on Oak Hill Road in Livingston, NY. The site is a high bluff looking south along the Hudson River, with a big view of the Catskill Mountains to the west. The 3000 sq. ft. house will be built into the hillside with a sod roof to shelter us from extreme heat and cold. We are excited about this project and hope the house will accomplish the following five goals:
- The design of the house and landscape should demonstrate a respect for the history of the site and a commitment to land stewardship.
- The construction of the house should reflect its time and place via vernacular materials and craftsmanship.
- The house should be low maintenance in every respect. We do not want to be owned by our house.
- The mechanical systems of the house should be simple, low tech, easy to repair and easy to operate, should use no fossil fuels, and should produce all of the energy required for all domestic hot water and HVAC…. a “reduce and produce” approach.
- The architecture of the house should demonstrate the power of architecture to contribute to the daily experience.
While the actual construction of the house began during the summer of 2013, we have been working on preparations for several years. These efforts have included collecting materials from the forest, such as enormous granite monoliths, cutting and drying 80 black walnut trees, building millwork and furniture for the house, creating architectural designs, and doing general site work to install utilities. We kept an architectural journal during the process and shared twelve journal entries in emails sent to friends and family on consecutive Saturdays beginning June 15, 2013. The journal entry topics and schedule are as follows:
- June 15 Land Stewardship vs Stewardship
- June 22 Selecting and Replacing a Black Walnut Tree
- June 29 Ten Chairs - A Maker's Journey
- July 6 Tuning a Door
- July 13 A Very Big Bowl
- July 20 Granite Monoliths
- July 27 Architecture as a Non-Visual Experience
- August 3 Globalization and the Demise of Vernacular Identity
- August 10 Wood
- August 24 Architectural Sustainability: The Challenge of Change
- August 31 The Hudson River Renaissance
- September 7 Architecture as a Reflection of Human Potential
We began to post construction photos with comments in October.