Dreams of Fields
While in Chicago last week at the Reinvention Design Conference — a stimulating confab of architects who specialize in residential work — I toured a remarkable house with lessons for anyone interested in home design. Designed by Vinci/Hamp Architects, it’s a recent addition to the
historic Crab Tree Farm (a dairy farm) built in 1911. The crisp white gabled
form deftly echoes the surrounding classic agricultural buildings, as shown above (you can glimpse the standing-seam metal roof of the new house in the distance, between the tile-roofed structures). The original buildings were designed by Solon S. Beman, architect of the company town of Pullman, Illinois.
Inside the new house the main space is like a hayloft reborn as light-filled gallery: the living room soars the full two stories, with symmetrical stairways leading to the bedrooms. As the photograph shows, the house is organized along a strong central axis that parallels an adjacent hayfield.
Where the front of the house presents more of a privacy screen, with smaller windows, the rear opens up to the field with walls of glass. One important lesson here is in the elegant way the house responds to two very different contexts: one almost urban, the other completely rural. Another lesson is in the use of natural light: clerestories in the shed dormers brighten the main space, and second story bedrooms are treated as large window bays overlooking the landscape.
Details are worked out with great care. For example, a corner becomes
an opportunity for space-saving built-ins, like this alcove desk and window
grandchildren and extra guests stacks Murphy beds from Resource Furniture
And finally, the landscape continues the artful melding of traditional and modern: a European-inspired allee of carefully pruned trees becomes a
forms the entrance to Chicago’s Millenium Park, adds to the illusion that this is an endlessly expanding forest dreamscape. In this remarkable house, structure and setting fuse in practical and poetic ways. (Photos one, three, and four from the top, courtesy Vinci/Hamp Architects.)
As you can see, I’m a big fan of agricultural buildings and pulled together a collection of Barn-Inspired Plans — just in case you’d like to see more!