Gipsy Trail House
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At Croton Reservoir in upstate New York, the hills tumble right into the lake. Simultaneously soft and hard, rolling and jagged, the lakefront alternates green patches with craggy, rocky formations. Built into this landscape of leaf and rock and water is a house: The Gypsy Trail residence. Its ground floor, constructed of rough stone collected on site, is recessed into the hillside. Perched above the stone base is the cantilevered second floor; this box of steel, wood, and glass is twisted at an angle to procure a direct view of the lake and to capture maximum sunlight. The overruling concept was to create an intelligent structure and to design the house “from the inside out”.

The house's structural center resides in a GENERATIVE CORE that, although originating in the ground floor, achieves its full form and function in the second floor. This core, the ARMATURE, is a centrally located "smart structure" integrating kitchen, bathrooms, fireplace, heating and cooling systems, and a central music system. The morphing of the armature's programmatic elements produces a segmented, ORGANIC SHAPE. Yet the armature functions not only as an infra-structural unit, but also as a circulatory and generative element, directing interior movement and molding the surfaces connected to it. Its organic shape distorts the geometry of the house as “pure box”; the roof above the armature warps to conform to its segmentation. Architecture becomes a responsive medium: to the organic shapes and human forms and functions it houses. Where the roof bends to meet the armature, glass planes take the place of the zinc roof in the form of a continuous skylight. The sun's rays are re-directed through glass ceiling planes integrated into a continuous wall-to-roof surface. Where the glass bends over to become wall at the end of the armature, a transparent shower room is suspended between the trees. As the sun completes its arc through the sky, the armature collects the sun's rays and channels them into various areas of the house. Here, architecture proves itself responsive to both environmental regulators (cooling, heating) and natural environments.


Year: Completed 2003
Location: Kent, New York
Client: Private
Project Type: Residence with guest house
Size: 3000 sq ft | Guest house: 1500 sq ft
Design Team: Principal in charge: Winka Dubbeldam, Assoc. AIA | Project Leader: Michael Hundsnurscher | Team: Rob Henderson, Tanja Bitzer, Kajsa Krause, Aaron Brakke, Sebastian Saint Jean, Siki Im, Ron Henderson, Michael Johnston, Philip Holley
Consultants: Contractors: T & L Construction | UAD – Contractors for zinc roofing, fenestration, railings | Structural Engineering: Buro Happold PC | Mechanical Engineering: Stanislav Slutsky Engineers
Photography: Floto & Warner Photography | Archi-Tectonics