Project: Piedmont Retreat
Architects: Tonic Design
Lead Architect: Katherine Hogan
General Contractor: Vincent Petrarca, Tonic Construction
Landscape Architects: Swanson & Associates, Carrboro, NC, David Swanson
Structural Engineer: Lynch Mykins Engineers
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Area: 3500 ft2
Photographs: Tzu Chen Photography, Tonic Design
Manufacturers: Cle Tile, Corten, Dopko Cabinetry, Duravit, Fleetwood, Volt, Arrowhead, Baba Antique Wooden Floors, Cle, Commune Design, The Shade Company
Wrapped in vertical stripes of Corten® steel street-side, with vast expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass and cantilevered windows overlooking the forest behind it, a modern house sits quietly in the corner of a cul-de-sac in Durham.
Katherine Hogan, AIA, and Vinny Petrarca of Tonic Design in Raleigh are responsible for this creative two-story, 3800-square-foot, single-family structure that will, as the steel continues to weather, blend into the natural setting and never need painting. Their clients loved the concept since they wanted a low-maintenance house with a modest public presence.
The owners also wanted to maintain direct visual connection to their beautiful wooded site. The abundant glazing fulfills that wish.
Form Follows Function: To create the innovative form and floor plan, the designers worked from the concept of a single square mass of space. They divided the mass into two halves: one for “public” spaces, one for private. Then they separated the two volumes and fanned them out to open the center of the composition to views of the natural environment, which created a protected exterior courtyard. Through this form, the two halves also face each other across the courtyard. As a result, the homeowners can enjoy the exterior of their new house from the interior and watch the steel reach its ultimate patina.
Old/New, Raw/Refined: The homeowners also wanted to use reclaimed and repurposed materials wherever possible. Hogan and Petrarca used this directive to create contrasts between old and new, raw and refined. Complementing the steel-glass contrast, new modern fixtures and finishes juxtapose with reclaimed-wood floors, recycled factory lights, and elements from the couple’s collection of art, objects and furniture.
Public/Private: While the steel provides an exterior barrier, of sorts, between the family and the street, interior spaces are open and fluid, shifting perspectives throughout the house as the inhabitants move from the “public” volume of living, dining, and kitchen areas to the private volume of bedrooms and baths, all on one floor. Light-filled walkways join the two portions. The lower level is intended for guests and includes two bedroom suites on opposite sides of the floor for privacy and a two-car garage.