Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts

Architect: Olson Kundig Architects
Project: Berkshire Retreat
Design Principal: Tom Kundig
Project Manager: Elizabeth Bianchi Conklin
Project Architect: Gus Lynch
Gizmologist: Phil Turner
Staff: Derek Santo Megan Quinn
Location: Berkshires, Massachusetts, United States
Photography: Benjamin Benschneider

Set on three hundred acres of rolling Berkshire landscape, the first challenge of the project was to find the perfect building site from which to experience the surroundings. The choice was the ecotone; the border between two adjacent ecological systems. The Berkshire Retreat stretches along the line where the forest meets the meadow. The forest provides protection (refuge)—it’s intimate, quiet, and introspective—while its meadow counterpart provides views of the valley and the low-lying mountains beyond (prospect). The building is thin enough that each room, as you move through the house, balances the two.

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 1

The main level of the Berkshire Retreat was raised about ten feet above the ground, partly to maximize the views, but also to get up above the humidity and insects in the summertime, and the snow in the winter.

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 2

The interior is finished with warm materials: wood, plaster, waxed steel, leather. The living room is lined with hand-cranked operable windows walls. When completely open, you feel like you’re in an elegant and comfortable tree fort, hovering above the landscape. There is no sensation quite like standing in that wide-open corner, taking in the 270-degree view.

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 3

The rooms of the Berkshire Retreat are all on one side of a 150-foot-long hallway that runs its entire length and then extends 12 feet farther out at each end. It’s intended to feel like a ship’s prow, so that when you’re standing in it, you have a Titanic moment.

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 4

Phil Turner designed several gizmos in the house, including the dumbwaiter adjacent to the entry and the mechanisms for opening the windows in the living room and bedroom. To operate the windows, you pull the wheel away from the wall to engage a set of chains that controls one window. Then you pull the wheel a bit farther out to engage a second set of chains for the other window. It’s like switching gears on a bicycle, and it serves as a deliberate moment of physical interaction with the house. Actually touching the building, making it work, connects the occupants to their environment in a solid, palpable way, resulting in a sense of shared existence.

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 5

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 6

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 10

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 10

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 11

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 12

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 13

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 7

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 8

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 14

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 15

Berkshire Retreat Offers Stupendous Views of Massachusetts 16

blank

Newsletter HomeWorldDesign

To be updated with all the latest projects

Most Recent

Most Popular

Off-Grid Tiny Cabin Inspired by Japanese Design: Bruny Island Hideaway

Off-Grid Tiny Cabin Inspired by Japanese Design: Bruny Island Hideaway

Tucked away in a clearing surrounded by 99 acres of forest, this off-grid tiny cabin is an escape from the high stress of our client’s busy work life. Born in Taiwan, she spent her childhood in traditional Japanese houses (built during occupation).
Walper Hotel in Silicon Valley North, Canada

Walper Hotel Features Historic Details Combined with a Bold Contemporary Design

The historic Walper Hotel in Canada’s Silicon Valley North is the new hot spot for Kitchener Waterloo’s growing tech community. With newly opened offices of Yahoo, Google and other major tech players, as well as Waterloo’s RIM and the Perimeter Institute
Lugano Apartment / Desearq Studio

Lugano Apartment / Desearq Studio

A young couple living in Ticino (Switzerland) requested our help to renovate their parents' apartment into something completely different. How not to run to their aid?

Juncal & Rodney House by Pepe Gascon Arquitectura

The Juncal & Rodney House is located in Begur, Region Girona of Spain, on one of the most beautiful areas of Costa Brava. Designed...

Aspvik House with architectural structures designed in 1917, 1960 and 2015

Aspvik house was completed recently by Andreas Martin-Löf Arkitekter. The house has 70 sqm and is located in Aspvik, Sweden, near Stockholm. Description by Andreas Martin-Löf: In...

More Articles Like This