A custom installation by glass artist Thomas Patti on the front door bay changes throughout the day from transparent to opaque.
A glass monitor and over scaled glass doors suffuse the double-height living area with natural light.
The living room includes a limestone fireplace. An intimate dining area overlooks the surrounding landscape.
Private Residence
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Set in a densely settled Cambridge neighborhood, this unusual wooded property was the site of a street that had been planned but never cut. A previous developer proposed a line of 22 row houses, but the concept was never realized.

The solution sites a single-family residence as part of a larger landscape plan that respects the natural flow and organization of the land with waves of single plant drifts and grass heights. By siting the house deeper into the heart of the site, its connection to the street is preserved, while creating sweeping, private vistas of the bucolic site. Visitors approach the house by a long, narrow drive and experience the sequence of the site from the public realm of the street to the private interior realms of the family. The courtyard is the organizing device for several distinct volumes of space: a kitchen/eating pavilion, a living pavilion and a sleeping pavilion.

The traditional neighborhood includes many clapboard-sided houses with Victorian and other wood details. In deference to this context, the volumes are clad in ship-lapped redwood clapboard of varying lengths. Each volume features slightly different details and widths of siding, which contribute to breaking down the scale and accessibility of the forms. Exterior details include standing-seam zinc roofs and zinc downspouts, with warm granite paving in the courtyards and patios. Granite chimneys and zinc-coated downspouts are the vertical elements that punctuate the horizontal banding of the siding.

The first volume includes an apartment over a storage area. Cars move into the sheltered interior courtyard. At the right, the two volumes of eating/living are each articulated with complementary but distinct materials. The expansive glass front door bay contrasts with the wood siding and smaller punched openings on the second level. The glass installation at the front entry creates a shimmering curtain that both protects and welcomes.

The three pavilions are connected by narrow, single-height halls clad in a zinc skin, with composed large glass openings. On the interior of the courtyard, smaller punched openings on the second level respond to the private nature of the spaces. The rear/south elevation features larger and more frequent openings that look out onto a private, grassy expanse. The kitchen/eating pavilion and private living pavilion are orthogonal forms with asymmetrically placed roofs that create separation between the forms and capture private views of the landscape. Each of the flanking volumes also contain bays set at slight angles to create a collage of forms that delineates movement around the buildings. More public functions of kitchen, dining and living areas are laid out along a spline of circulation that offers views between rooms and creates natural connections between the spaces. An understated use of color and detail are a soothing backdrop to a dynamic art collection that is placed both inside and out.




9,800 SF


Peter Aaron/ESTO