Located in Dutchess County, New York, USA, Dutchess County Studio is an 800-sqft (74-sqm) house designed by GRT Architects in 2020.
GRT Architects designed a studio in Dutchess County, New York for Manhattanites considering a move. Living and working in a large city inevitably involves conversations about leaving it. Our clients raised their children in the Frank Lloyd Wright-planned Usonia community and then moved to Manhattan as their nest emptied. Looking to retirement and grandchildren they found twenty four pastoral acres on a lake in Dutchess county, yet remained apprehensive about full time relocation.
We proposed to start by building a small studio that would let the clients develop a feel for the land before committing further. In order to locate the studio we needed to create a master plan. Doing so meant creating schematic designs for a three-bedroom house, workshop, swimming pool, fire pit, and dock then laying them out to share utilities sized to serve all including a common drive, septic system, well and electrical service. We located the studio where it would have a view but not be the view.
We composed three equally sized volumes in a pinwheel to create an 800 square foot open plan studio. Each mass has an identical roof atop a beak-like clerestory window but asymmetry was introduced in response to the site. The masses meet at a center point, marked by the pinwheel intersection of three steel beams but the interior is conceived as three subtly implied rooms, each oriented each to a different view. The southern mass steps down to follow the topography and windows are sized and located to balance views with privacy. Built-in elements perform many of the roles walls normally would, implying rooms without dividing the space and creating areas for cooking, living and sleeping. A murphy bed in the living space allows for guests while tall closets in the sunken sleeping space create some privacy between them and the owners. The studio is heated and cooled without the use of fossil fuels, using a radiant concrete slab and air conditioning concealed above the only ‘true’ room – the bathroom. The bathroom walls are tinted waterproof plaster executed in Moroccan tadelakt and the floor carries the triangle motif forward with custom terrazzo tiles. The counters are also in custom terrazzo, fabricated by Kaza Concrete who also produce GRT’s Flutes & Reeds line of concrete tiles.
Outside, the studio is clad in textured black brick, a material that plays optical tricks depending on lighting, sometimes flattening the complex mass into a single plane. The roof is clad in natural cedar shakes with copper trim intended to add a warmer aspect to the design.
The owners have greatly enjoyed the studio and asked us to proceed with other elements of the master plan including the pool, dock and workshop. Grandchildren are expected in late 2020 and planning for the home is underway.
— GRT Architects
Photographs by Ithai Schori
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