Located in Dutchess County, NY, the LM Guest House is a 2,000 sq ft country retreat that boast a continuous glass facade that was prefabricated off-site and erected in just two days. The compact home also features a series of sustainable measures, including the use of geothermal and solar power, solar shades and recycled rainwater for irrigation. In an email interview, Gizmag spoke to senior architect Katherine Chia from the New York based firm, Desai Chia Architecture, to find out more about the design.

Gizmag: Can you tell us about the LM Guest House brief?

Katherine Chia: The brief requested a compact home with a living room, dining area, large kitchen, bathroom, main bedroom, and an additional four beds for extra guests. The client was very interested in capturing the expansive views of the pond and landscape in a very dramatic way. We discussed a range of strategies that would allow for a continuous glass facade to wrap around the house.

GM: How did you go about capturing these views?

KC: We purposely elevated the house above the rock outcropping to minimize the disruption to the existing terrain. The foundation of the house was carefully pinned to the rock outcropping and all of the utilities were carefully trenched to the underside of the floor slab area. The natural vistas from the rock outcropping are stunning, we took advantage of that and created a very tight core of mechanical spaces. We call this inner zone the work-horse of the house because it really provides all of the mechanical supports for the house in an incredibly compact footprint.

We spent time researching sustainable design strategies and high-performance glass systems in order to create a home that would be both visually compelling and also perform well from a comfort and thermal perspective.

GM: What inspired the design features of the home?

KC: We were definitely inspired by traditional Japanese garden pavilions for the overall concept of the house. Various details in the house were inspired by a range of references. For instance, the bunk bed nooks that sleep four were inspired by European overnight train couchettes. The kitchen and bathroom were inspired by the resin product design projects we were working on at the time (these spaces are sheathed in seamless resin to create a highly durable and luminous environment for cooking and bathing).

GM: Can you briefly describe the sustainable features of the house?

KC: The house integrates a number of sustainable design strategies including geothermal heating and cooling, radiant floors, natural ventilation, motorized solar shades, photovoltaic panels, and rainwater collection for irrigation. Most of these systems can be controlled remotely from the client’s iPad or iPhone so he can monitor the house at any time and balance the heating and cooling requirements seasonally.

Sustainable landscape design strategies were also closely tied to the design of the house. A tight palette of native vegetation highlights vistas and other natural features on the property while also managing storm water run-off. Local bluestone slabs and shale excavated from the site create outdoor seating areas and pathways; a bluestone slab terrace between the house and a nearby grove of pine trees provides an intimate outdoor room for entertaining and dining. Bluestone steps from the terrace lead to a barbeque area and an outdoor shower in the woods.

GM: What did the construction process involve?

KC: The structural design for the house relies on four steel columns imbedded in the wood core; the roof cantilevers out from these four columns. This elegant structural solution uses the minimum amount of materials to achieve expansive, open living areas at both ends of the house. The facade of the house was designed as a thermally robust system of high-performance, triple-paned glass units that vary in width from 10 to 20 feet (6-10 m). The entire assembly was prefabricated off-site, shipped to the site in one container, and erected by crane in two days.

GM: What are your favorite design features of the home?

KC: This project gave us an opportunity to blur the boundaries between inside and out using the continuous glass skin to dematerialize the facade of the house. And yet we still wanted to maintain a clear sense of warmth and proportion to the interior spaces so the extensive use of wood was a critical design feature of the house. We also were determined to bring together a range of sustainable strategies that really supported the thermal performance goals for the house.

GM: What can we expect to see from you in the future?

KC: We are currently working on several commercial projects, a collaboration with an artist on a large-scale installation for a museum in Singapore and several residences. We would like to do more work with cultural and academic institutions and continue to design environments that will inspire creativity and collaboration.

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