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Part I of several… We have an enjoyable and unusual residential design project going on in Guilford, Vermont. A very tired and ramshackle roadside blacksmith’s shop is being given a new lease on life as a diminutive, ultra-high-efficiency home. The tiny cottage is part of an arts-oriented family compound, created from the bones of a 19th-century New England farmstead.
Tucked into a long valley, the farm’s various buildings hug the road tightly in true Yankee fashion; consequently, it was decided to disassemble the utilitarian smithy’s post-and-beam frame and relocate it a bit further back from the shoulder for safety and comfort. Several other design challenges needed to be incorporated into the rebuilding to meet the desires of the owners: additional square footage, an efficient envelope, and a number of programmatic usage requirements. In order to maintain the original (and essential) historic aspect while meeting these needs, project designer Bryan Louisell came up with a novel solution: piggyback another iteration of the structure on top of, and behind, the basic shape.
This “echo” of the original is narrowed, to remain subservient to the main mass, and projects both upward (to add a second story) and downward (the hillside location allows a walk-out at the rear). Housing the more personal functions of the cottage – bedroom, dining alcove – and glazed in a more open manner to avail itself of the private views, the addition is clad with contrasting siding and employs more contemporarily-styled windows. The reconstructed blacksmith shop fronts the road and engages the public interface, with an entry, living space, and the stairs winding up through the antique frame to a balconied landing. We’ll return with more details and construction progress in a follow-up post or two.