Project: Ledge House
Architects: Desai Chia Architecture
Design Team: Katherine Chia, Arjun Desai, Troy Lacombe, Brad Isnard
Engineering: David Kufferman, A.H. Howland Associates
Landscape: AB Landscaping
Builder: Classic Renovations LLC
Location: Cornwall, United States
Area: 2400 ft2
Photography: Paul Warchol
Text by Desai Chia Architecture
The Ledge House clients asked us to design a new home that would resonate with the history of the Connecticut Valley, include a material palette that is environmentally friendly, and works with the challenging site on a large rock ledge. We removed an existing cabin that had been expanded in unsuccessful ways over time by a previous owner; we were able to reuse the cabin’s foundation (which saved money and reduced construction waste) & add to it to simplify the footprint of the building while amplifying the program. The new footprint moved the house closer to an existing boulder- a prehistoric “glacial erratic” that was deposited along with the ledge hundreds of thousands of years ago when the glaciers formed the Appalachian Mountains.
The boulder is a rugged companion to the house and acts as a muse for the uphill forest views. The form of the house was inspired by indigenous barns of the area as well as the nearby, historic West Cornwall Covered Bridge. A clever structural system utilized balloon framing techniques— the beams, walls, sheathing, and a carefully calibrated nailing pattern allows the structure to perform as a unified diaphragm, eliminating the need for exposed cross bracing. The interior vaulted ceilings are open volumes of space accentuated by clean planar surfaces.
The living room, dining room, and kitchen form the nucleus of a large breezeway through the house; the breezeway was strategically positioned to take advantage of the views to the valley, the uphill cross-ventilating breezes, and an existing boulder that becomes a rugged companion to the house and the views of the landscape. The exterior of the house is clad in Shou Sugi Ban siding which offers a rot-resistant and bug-resistant finish that also articulates the iconic form of the building. The interior finishes are light and airy.
A master bedroom suite is located on one end of the house; 2 guest bedrooms are on the other end. The nucleus living area between them allows the owners and their guests to merge & socialize together in a lofted, open area that connects across the ledge to a forested terrace and a valley terrace: indoor and outdoor living flow seamlessly through.