Built as a home for both our client and their parents as well as studio and meeting spaces for their business, this house combines lessons learned from rural Connecticut modernism with concepts borrowed from traditional Japanese design. Encircled by a stone wall inspired by New England agrarian buildings, the overall configuration of the house and its courtyards and gardens was conceived in collaboration with a feng shui master, with a ceremonial gate that opens onto the garden to the north, and a door for everyday use to the southeast, adjacent to the bulk of the house’s program. A carport to the northwest allows clients to visit the studio work space independently of the rest of the house. Critical to the house’s organization is that nearly every room look onto the main courtyard, with its carefully composed array of trees and plants, creating an environment entirely apart from the urban residential neighborhood just beyond the meticulously laid stone wall.
Within the perimeter wall, a secondary stone wall passes through the main family space, uniting disparate interior, courtyard, and garden conditions and blurring the boundary between inside and out. Two dark gabled bar volumes—one for each generation of the family—hover above the living and working spaces and the stone walls which weave through them, bridged by a glazed meeting space for visitors. Upstairs, sliding panels inspired by centuries-old Japanese building tradition allow the bedrooms and hallways to be subdivided and reconfigured in numerous ways. Calm, whitewashed hinoki cypress wall surfaces stand in stark contrast to the earthy stone walls and garden views below. Windows are placed selectively, providing views to important landscape features in the distance, but screened from the urban streetscape by deep louvers for privacy.