Durham, North Carolina   2013

runner-up arcbazar competition.

The homes of Hermitage Court represent a cross section of American architectural styles. As the neighborhood’s only contemporary representative, this new modern design supersedes an abolished uninspired 50‘s-era suburban rancher.

Driven by a strong desire for a garage oriented away from the street, the ambitious program reconciles with the existing grades and memory of the former home thru a reinterpretation of the split-level. To this end, and in lieu of a separate access stair, the master bedroom suite is lifted one half level above the main floor for close proximity to a children’s upper level as well as additional privacy. In turn, the game and media level below are also raised, allowing direct access to the garden level outside. Here, the elevator stops on all levels.

Connection of the house to the land is paramount. Surrounded by an existing canopy of old growth trees, the footprint of the former structure is transformed by this new four square plan, with one quadrant given over to a raised landscape tableau. A lone existing tree centered in the front yard, threatened by any new construction is removed as a deliberate act of enhancement. New plantings at property’s edge further define the property’s perimeter and atone for this loss.  Prefaced by a new low stone wall and permeable entry forecourt, street side is characterized by restraint, whereas open social spaces deliberately extend into, and engage the privacy of the garden beyond. Solar orientation is carefully considered in this strategy.

Constructed using a previously proven Energy-Star rated combination of precast foundation walls, open web floor trusses, brick veneered structural insulated panels, and thermally efficient window systems, the design aspires to a lower carbon footprint. Future geothermal and solar strategies are easily accommodated.