Berkshires Residence by Olson Kundig. Massachusetts, US
With the main level 10 feet above the ground, this modern steel, glass and concrete home in Western Massachusetts by Olson Kundig opens to the surrounding forest and meadow with hand-cranked operable windows walls.
Set on three hundred acres of rolling Berkshire landscape, the first challenge of the project was to find the perfect building site from which to experience the surroundings. The choice was the ecotone; the border between two adjacent ecological systems.
The house stretches along the line where the forest meets the meadow. The forest provides protection (refuge)—it’s intimate, quiet, and introspective—while its meadow counterpart provides views of the valley and the low-lying mountains beyond (prospect). The building is thin enough that each room, as you move through the house, balances the two.
The main level of the house was raised about ten feet above the ground, partly to maximize the views, but also to get up above the humidity and insects in the summertime, and the snow in the winter.
Shepard Steel, who worked on the project, reports that the floor was supported by 36 inch deep, 150 foot long beams which presented a significant challenge crossing a covered bridge and up a windy mountain road to the remote site.
All of the exposed steel was of a special grade allowing it to rust to give a weathered appearance. Cantilevered roof beams supported sliding glass windows allowing for the owner to enjoy their views from inside and out.
The living room is lined with hand-cranked operable windows walls, a common device of Olson Kundig’s. When completely open, you feel like you’re in an elegant and comfortable tree fort, hovering above the landscape. There is no sensation quite like standing in that wide-open corner, taking in the 270-degree view.