Gipsy Trail House
Prev.: PORTS 1961 LONDON
Asset 1 fr-01

At Croton Reservoir in upstate New York, the hills tumble right into the lake. Simultaneously soft and hard, rolling and jagged, the lakefront alternates green patches with craggy, rocky formations. Built into this landscape of leaf and rock and water is a house: The Gypsy Trail residence. Its ground floor, constructed of rough stone collected on site, is recessed into the hillside. Perched above the stone base is the cantilevered second floor; this box of steel, wood, and glass is twisted at an angle to procure a direct view of the lake and to capture maximum sunlight. The overruling concept was to create an intelligent structure and to design the house “from the inside out”.

The house's structural center resides in a GENERATIVE CORE that, although originating in the ground floor, achieves its full form and function in the second floor. This core, the ARMATURE, is a centrally located "smart structure" integrating kitchen, bathrooms, fireplace, heating and cooling systems, and a central music system. The morphing of the armature's programmatic elements produces a segmented, ORGANIC SHAPE. Yet the armature functions not only as an infra-structural unit, but also as a circulatory and generative element, directing interior movement and molding the surfaces connected to it. Its organic shape distorts the geometry of the house as “pure box”; the roof above the armature warps to conform to its segmentation. Architecture becomes a responsive medium: to the organic shapes and human forms and functions it houses. Where the roof bends to meet the armature, glass planes take the place of the zinc roof in the form of a continuous skylight. The sun's rays are re-directed through glass ceiling planes integrated into a continuous wall-to-roof surface. Where the glass bends over to become wall at the end of the armature, a transparent shower room is suspended between the trees. As the sun completes its arc through the sky, the armature collects the sun's rays and channels them into various areas of the house. Here, architecture proves itself responsive to both environmental regulators (cooling, heating) and natural environments.\

Also built into this landscape of leaf, rock and water, one finds the first house on this site - the guest House. The guest house is built as an ‘alter-ego’ of a larger structure; the main house, situated right on the lake. Similar in materials but a kind, small, simple version of its more sophisticated ‘other’. The 1500 SF house is designed as a stone volume [garage], which supports a cantilevering wood structure, the split level guesthouse. The garage is constructed of rough stone collected from the site. This simple stone base will be intersected with the guest house volume. This tilted volume of wood and glass hovers free from the ground, the living area is located on the second floor with an amazing view of the lake. The dining / kitchen area have doors to the large terrace on the garage roof, providing a ‘surround’ view of the site. The double height void to below connects to the sleeping area, here sliding doors allow for direct access to a small porch and nature beyond. The sun's rays will enter through high glass planes integrated into a continuous surface. The entrance area was of as particular interest where layers of wood screens, large glass set backs and double height space with felt curtains were creating a soft boundary between interior and exterior specs. The corner details are worked out with particular attention creating a continuity of materials and surfaces.


Year: Completed 2003
Location: Kent, New York
Client: Private
Project Type: Residence with guest house
Size: 3000 sq ft | Guest house: 1500 sq ft
Design Team: Principal in charge: Winka Dubbeldam, Assoc. AIA | Project Leader: Michael Hundsnurscher | Team: Rob Henderson, Tanja Bitzer, Kajsa Krause, Aaron Brakke, Sebastian Saint Jean, Siki Im, Ron Henderson, Michael Johnston, Philip Holley
Consultants: Contractors: T & L Construction | UAD – Contractors for zinc roofing, fenestration, railings | Structural Engineering: Buro Happold PC | Mechanical Engineering: Stanislav Slutsky Engineers
Photography: Floto & Warner Photography | Archi-Tectonics