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Privacy House

A married couple whose grown son visits occasionally were determined to "break free" (their words) from the traditional, "soul-deadening" (ditto) residential development where they lived. Modernists at heart, they longed for a quiet, secluded place in the woods where they could build a simple, modern, “green,” age-in-place house custom-designed for their lifestyle, their needs, and their passion for privacy. One more thing: They asked for “a sheltered place to sit outside and watch the rain.”  They also wanted every square inch to be used with a “minimum of halls.”

The clients originally wanted only a 1500 square foot house, however the neighborhood covenants required a minimum of 2000 heated square feet, and the final design just makes it.  The house was carefully perched on a small knoll bordering a forest in Chatham County. The architect’s concept intent was to create a “veil” on the front elevation facing the street to signify the home’s private nature in a friendly way. The “veil” concept became a cypress screen that filters light entering the house and obscures public view of the homeowners’ private terrace behind it. The windows on this elevation are high on the wall so no one can peer inside.

The southern elevation facing the forest is meant solely for the pleasure of the owners and their guests. Here, the house bursts forth into the light with a broad, sun-drenched deck for outdoor living and dining; plenty of glazing to allow the sunlight to fill the interior and to maintain visual contact from the inside to the outside; and a deep, sheltering roof where the owners can “sit outside and watch the rain.”

We further enlivened this completely private elevation by using large blocks of primary colors as architectural elements, a concept mainly inspired by flags, but also reminiscent of the Netherlands-based De Stijl movement of the early 1900s.​​​


This house features:

  • Passive House triple glazed windows from AwiluxTo elevate the house from merely “green” to Net Zero Passive status, she placed it on its site to maximize solar gain, natural light, and natural ventilation then supported those low tech principles with such high-tech features as:

  • A small solar array on the roof to generate electricity.

  •   An over-abundance of insulation, sealing all air gaps.

  •   An Energy Recovery Ventilator to transfer moisture and heat from incoming air.

  •   Fiber cement panel cladding.

The spatially efficient floor plan eliminated hallways as much as possible so that the homeowners use “every square inch” as they requested.  The interior also features zero thresholds, curb-free showers, and oversized doorways -- aging-in-place principles they will enjoy for many years to come.

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