Wilmington House

Type: Residential - New Construction
Program: Single-Family Home
Location: Wilmington, Vermont
Status: Unrealized, Design Completed 2023
Brief: New 3,400 SF Single-Family Residence with Lake Access Dock

Situated on the edge of Lake Raponda near Wilmington, Vermont, this tranquil yet challenging site is characterized by century-old trees, moss-covered boulders, and a beaver lodge. Our client, an active family with three young children, acquired this secluded land for their second home, as their desire to be closer to nature made this a perfect spot to build on.

In our design exploration, we carefully studied the physical impact of the structure on the surrounding landscape while considering our clients’ pragmatic needs. Through iterative work in section, the location of the structure was determined by studying the environmental and zoning constraints, understanding optimal orientations for light and views, and assessing the logistical feasibility of building on a steep slope. Intentionally defining a relatively small building footprint at the base, we evolved the plan vertically to optimize views and greater penetration of daylight. The building material choices were determined in part for their ephemeral qualities. Envisioning that over time, the building will weather and change, blending harmoniously with its surroundings and echoing the grey granite rock formations on the site. The outcome is a cedar shingle-clad home gracefully perched on a concrete plinth, peering through the towering trees. Thus, achieving our desired outcome of creating a symbiotic relationship with the site.

As one approaches the home, the carved massing unfolds, revealing deep overhangs that offer shelter along the exterior circulation from seasonal elements such as rain and snow. Simultaneously, these overhangs frame viewing corridors, providing carefully choreographed glimpses of Lake Raponda along the slope. Outdoor rooms extend the interior planning and are strategically nested at multiple levels. The organization of sleeping and living spaces is finely tuned to the sun’s rhythmic journey and cardinal orientations. Each level possesses a unique spatial quality, yet all are unified within a continuous “perforated” building skin. The punched window openings serve as apertures for uninterrupted views, facilitating cross ventilation, and enhancing the penetration of daylight amidst the density of trees. Interior windows increase connectivity within, overcoming obstacles posed by walls thus creating a unified spatial experience.

Within a three-story void, a meandering cross-laminated timber stair gracefully threads its way through the living floors. This suspended internal circulation not only acts as a focal point, but also serves as a conduit for visual and vocal communication among family members on different floors. Additionally, it functions as a spatial device, providing an elevated perspective for observing the serenity of the surrounding landscape.

Although this project will not come to fruition, it embodies our ongoing architectural interests which were tested in the conception of this home. Shaping spaces with four uninterrupted orientations for optimum natural light, visual connectivity and material harmony were the guiding principles that define this domestic space.