The Berkshire House, named after its location in the Berkshire Mountain Range of western Massachusetts, is a single-family residence.
The house is 6,123 SF. To minimize the appearance of a massive house and better fit the project into the 5-acre surrounding landscape, we used a compact floor plan in which public space bleeds into one large room off of which private space adjoins at the edges. The form in plan is a pinwheel, with the living room, dining room and kitchen at the center, and the bedrooms and facilities on the wings. We used the large site and need to break down the form as an opportunity to deconstruct the elevations from four primary sides to a multi-sided assemblage of interlocking volumes. From the exterior, it is hard to tell where one floor starts and another begins. As you move around the building, the floor to floor datum is even less legible.
The design of the house, sparked by the additional program brought into the project by the clients, is a critique of the traditional approach to the basic problem of domesticity. In a conventional house, the front door is hierarchically dominant ant by being – as the name suggests – in the front. Though the front door is a good mechanism for way finding, and often necessary based on site constraints, the location of the house provided a unique opportunity to reevaluate this convention. Rather than place the front door in the front of the house, we removed it all together. Where there should be a door, we placed a fixed window that when one approaches and looks through, gives a view straight through the center of the house and into the back yard. The house plan and massing unfold around this implied axis. To enter the house, a visitor must find their way to the center of the building through one of the openings in the pinwheel plan. As one moves from the exterior landscape into these semi-enclosed indoor/outdoor nooks, they can see directly into the public spaces of the house, before arriving at the entry. Typically, the front door is an episodic barrier through which you either enter or exit the building. You are either inside and welcome, or outside, unaware of what lies within. By removing this barrier and turning the interior space into a highly visible, public space, one feels welcome before ever entering the home.