A Striking Hillside Home
In New York state, a new house combines compound curves and energy-saving details.
Synopsis: When working on this house in New York state, architect Kurt Ofer got to tackle two important tasks: He designed a house that curves on a hillside lot, and he incorporated a lot of details that allow the homeowners to save energy. The house has an insulated foundation, low-e coated Pella windows, window shades, a high-efficiency wood-fired furnace, and a heat-recovery ventilator. Even with all the state-of-the-art details, the house has a warm, inviting interior, largely thanks to lumber harvested from a cherry tree that had been knocked over on the property. This article includes a sidebar by builder Steven Smith, who writes about his experience building a curved house.
Magazine extra: This wasn’t the first project where the author/architect incorporated curves. Read “Arch-Top in the Valley,” a profile of Ofer’s own home.
For a while, Web and Helen Stayman had wanted to build a new house on their wooded hill outside of town, so they had thought about their future home a lot before they approached the architecture firm my wife and I own. They came to our first meeting armed with drawings, Web’s quarter-scale model of their ideal design, and a strong desire to have a house that was as energy efficient as possible. When we suggested tactfully that we were more interested in designing houses from scratch, Helen stated, “Of course you are, and that’s why we are here.” In the end, we designed a completely different house of compound curves that nestles into a curved hillside. Best of all, the house has a highly insulated shell (R-38 walls, R-62 roof, and an ICF foundation) and derives its primary heat from a high-efficiency wood-fired furnace.
An insulated foundation saves money and energy
A curved foundation is always a challenge, and this…