With their move from the City of Light to the Capital of Education, the owners – who had been looking for a small already renovated house – fell in love with this rambling 19th century house on historic Brattle Street,…
The initial challenge for this project was overcoming 12 years of ill-fated attempts by the owner and his 5 previous architects to design a house that would bridge the architectural gap between the widely varying scales and styles of the context, while also meeting the client's ever-changing programmatic requirements. Ultimately, the owner requested a house that would be as maintenance free as possible, composed of a warm and comfortable palette of sustainable materials, maximum energy efficiency and an open and flexible floor plan. The project also had to be designed and meticulously detailed while meeting the hectic and unforgiving filming schedule of a well-known PBS television series that was to feature the house in an 18-episode series.
The new design staggers the building's massing to mediate between the street level and align the main living spaces with the rear yard. A garage and mudroom are located at street level, with steps leading down to the bar/pantry and living level; the garage doors are finished to match the adjacent horizontal wood siding to minimize the impact of the garage on the street elevation. The master suite is located above the garage and mudroom area, and the master bath cantilevers above the formal entry to provide cover and to create a more generous exterior space that is in effect a full story above street level.
The exterior is conceived as a collage of sustainably reclaimed redwood exterior siding, integrally colored stucco, and glass volumes and planes that shift and rotate around the central stone chimney. Stone walls extend into the site to create a series of exterior spaces and visually anchor the house to its site.