<p>The first and most important act of design was selecting the place to anchor the home within the steeply sloped glacial terrain. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

The first and most important act of design was selecting the place to anchor the home within the steeply sloped glacial terrain.
© Peter Aaron

<p>This dwelling is conceived as an incident intertwined in a broad geological passage up to and along the ridge. The site is a south-facing, thirty-three acre, boulder-strewn escarpment that rises over one hundred feet from a wetland below to the ridge above that is the town's namesake. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

This dwelling is conceived as an incident intertwined in a broad geological passage up to and along the ridge. The site is a south-facing, thirty-three acre, boulder-strewn escarpment that rises over one hundred feet from a wetland below to the ridge above that is the town's namesake.
© Peter Aaron

<p>As the home spatially amplifies the power of physical passage across the terrain, so too do its walls expand and magnify the presence of the spectacular granite outcroppings mingled with the forest. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

As the home spatially amplifies the power of physical passage across the terrain, so too do its walls expand and magnify the presence of the spectacular granite outcroppings mingled with the forest.
© Peter Aaron

<p>The envelope assembly provides not only a responsible ethic but also an aesthetic that celebrates and dramatizes nature. In some conditions, the home "disappears" into the landscape. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

The envelope assembly provides not only a responsible ethic but also an aesthetic that celebrates and dramatizes nature. In some conditions, the home "disappears" into the landscape.
© Peter Aaron

<p>Most of the windows extend floor to ceiling, parting the wall to reveal framed views to moments in the geology. The metal rain screen wall panels in turn reveal their own abstractions of the landscape. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

Most of the windows extend floor to ceiling, parting the wall to reveal framed views to moments in the geology. The metal rain screen wall panels in turn reveal their own abstractions of the landscape.
© Peter Aaron

<p>The underlying bedrock is largely granite and gneiss at the northernmost edge of the Manhattan Prong, but the surface geology is predominantly glacial and was formed over fifteen thousand years ago as the last ice age receded. The exposed rock is similar to that in Central Park. Twelve of the thirty-three acres have been set aside in a local land conservancy by the owners. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small>  </p>

The underlying bedrock is largely granite and gneiss at the northernmost edge of the Manhattan Prong, but the surface geology is predominantly glacial and was formed over fifteen thousand years ago as the last ice age receded. The exposed rock is similar to that in Central Park. Twelve of the thirty-three acres have been set aside in a local land conservancy by the owners.
© Peter Aaron

<p>At the end of the living/dining space, a canopy continues the space out over a stone patio that extends the interior out into the landscape along the steep ridge line as it rides out beyond the house to the southeast. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

At the end of the living/dining space, a canopy continues the space out over a stone patio that extends the interior out into the landscape along the steep ridge line as it rides out beyond the house to the southeast.
© Peter Aaron

<p>The kitchen, a small bathroom, and a media space are combined within a walnut-clad box nested within the larger living/dining/gallery volume, with this volume in turn nested within the upper geologic room circumscribed by the parallel ridge lines. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

The kitchen, a small bathroom, and a media space are combined within a walnut-clad box nested within the larger living/dining/gallery volume, with this volume in turn nested within the upper geologic room circumscribed by the parallel ridge lines.
© Peter Aaron

<p>A glass-enclosed bridge leads to the gallery and living spaces. A separate path opens to the bedroom wing of the dwelling, with windows and skylights introducing bands of alternating light and dark space. Each window frames a unique view of the rock cliff. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small> </p>

A glass-enclosed bridge leads to the gallery and living spaces. A separate path opens to the bedroom wing of the dwelling, with windows and skylights introducing bands of alternating light and dark space. Each window frames a unique view of the rock cliff.
© Peter Aaron

<p>The bridge is a moment of transition and passage between the two worlds of the lower and upper rooms. It highlights the position and the dialogue between outside and inside, between the architectural and geological rooms of the dwelling in and among the cliffs. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small> </p>

The bridge is a moment of transition and passage between the two worlds of the lower and upper rooms. It highlights the position and the dialogue between outside and inside, between the architectural and geological rooms of the dwelling in and among the cliffs.
© Peter Aaron

<p>The house's walls draw our attention to the wonders of time and change as they reflect variations of light, weather, and season. They create an architecture of time, be it the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter; the times of the day: morning, noon, dusk, night; or the weather: misty, overcast, raining, sunny. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

The house's walls draw our attention to the wonders of time and change as they reflect variations of light, weather, and season. They create an architecture of time, be it the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter; the times of the day: morning, noon, dusk, night; or the weather: misty, overcast, raining, sunny.
© Peter Aaron

<p>The exterior walls are composed of tin zinc-coated copper, brushed stainless steel, polished stainless steel, and glass to create a variety of reflections, abstractions, and refractions of light and views. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

The exterior walls are composed of tin zinc-coated copper, brushed stainless steel, polished stainless steel, and glass to create a variety of reflections, abstractions, and refractions of light and views.
© Peter Aaron

<p>The first and most important act of design was selecting the place to anchor the home within the steeply sloped glacial terrain. <br><small>&copy; Peter Aaron</small></p>

How can we design a home that expands and enhances our connection to the natural world?

The site for this home is a south-facing, boulder-strewn escarpment that rises over a hundred feet, from a wetland to the top of a ridge. The owners were drawn to the almost magical sense of tranquility they felt upon their first visit to this heavily forested land, striped with loose-laid fieldstone farm walls from the nineteenth century. Their mandate to the architectural team was simple but not simplistic: they wanted to live in a "house in the woods, of the woods"—to feel the presence of the forest indoors—and to commune quietly with nature and visit with guests within naturally lit, open, airy, warm rooms.

Selecting the "site within the site" was the first challenge of design. On an early site visit, Stephen Kieran met with the home's owners atop a boulder.

The first and most important act of design was selecting the place to anchor the home within the steeply sloped glacial terrain. We were immediately drawn to the ridge itself. Just beneath it were two rock-enclosed “rooms”—one positioned below with another space adjoining it above. Separating these was a small ravine, carrying water from a crevice in the ridge to the wetland below.  
 
Within the rock rooms, we placed three shifting volumes that gently respond to the site's natural slopes and plateaus. The fit of the volumes of the house within these rock enclosures is snug. New stone walls engage the existing stone ledges and boulders in a dialogue that speaks to the forces of nature and man as shapers of place. In response to the dramatic natural scenery, the house itself employs an economy of design that focuses on harmony with the landscape and elemental materiality.

PASSAGE

The home is the culmination of a carefully crafted journey ascending the glacial terrain. The journey begins below the house as the entry drive wraps around a small pond that holds and filters water from the ridge above. The drive up to the home moves across the slope in curving arcs that work with the contour of the land. Ruins of farm walls and new stone-lined swales weave through the boulders and projecting bedrock ledges, managing the movement of water.  
 
The interior of the house is very much an extension of this passage. The path continues beyond the front door, through the crevice between the two rock rooms, beneath the glass bridge, and up a break in the escarpment to the ridge above, with water and humans moving in parallel passage.

WALLS

As the home spatially amplifies the power of physical passage across the terrain, so too do its walls expand and magnify the presence of the spectacular granite outcroppings mingled with the forest. Time of day, season of year, and variations in weather all shift and display in a perpetual dance ornamenting the walls.  
 
Four materials compose the perimeter walls: tin zinc-coated copper, brushed stainless steel, polished stainless steel, and glass. Each of these creates an unfolding reflection of the world beyond and within. The copper receives shadow. The brushed stainless steel abstracts and refracts the general tonality of time of day, weather, and season. The polished stainless steel precisely mirrors form, texture, and color. Lastly, the glass windows are of two worlds. In some conditions, such as in the evening with the lights on, they are transparent and allow views to the interior of the dwelling; at other times, they reflect in a muted way the world outside.  
 
All materials were selected for long-term durability, and to honor both permanence and change, much as the weathered rock and high forest canopy endure yet evolve with day and season.

Structural Insulated Panels provide an exceptional level of resistance to thermal transfer at the walls and roof and are capable of rapid erection. Together, the high insulation, low infiltration, and renewable geothermal energy source assure low energy use across the seasons.

ENERGY

This is a dwelling simultaneously in, with, and about nature. It seeks both an ethic and an aesthetic of energy responsibility. This begins with masonry walls that engage the earth and tightly constructed Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) enclosures that allow for strategic slices in the envelope, opening up the interior to composed views of the landscape.  
 
The SIP enclosures and narrow detail and construction tolerances allow for a highly insulated envelope and incredibly tight construction. The measured and judicious use of wood-framed triple light glazing minimizes thermal transfer “weak spots” and strategically orients glazing to benefit from seasonal heat rejection or gain. As a result, the house will gain solar heat and retain it very efficiently during the winter. During the warmer months, apertures oriented for cross-ventilation greatly reduce the need for mechanical cooling.  
 
At every turn, Pound Ridge House is about expanding our connection to the natural world. It explores an ethical aesthetic that is both evocative and performative, an aesthetic that aims first and foremost to induce wonder at both the timelessness and flux of the natural environment in which we live.