-9There is a tendency to resort to reductive binaries when engaging architectural work: i.e. inside/outside, old/new, presence/absence, and light/dark. For architect Joeb Moore, principal of Joeb Moore & Partners LLC, this view is myopic to the point of being misrepresentational. All experience of constructed space occurs on a spectrum. In his architectural practice, Moore seeks to not only dissolve such illusory boundaries, but also to demonstrate the systematic interconnectivity of the home. Each room communes in both spirit and function with every other part of the house. And the house itself is in deep ecological interaction with its surroundings. Moore’s ideas about the holistic nature of architecture took tangible form with River Residence, a home nestled deep in the New England countryside. Moore and his team created a residential space that offers comfort while challenging expectations; utilizes the foundations of the past while also making a statement about a sustainable future; and merges with its environment in a way that is both subtle, and strikingly beautiful.
“The home is a contested symbol,” Moore says, “It represents human frailty and the need for shelter, while also making a statement about how and why we dominate a landscape.” When redesigning River Residence, Moore and his team had to contend with the extremes of New England’s brutal winters and sweltering summers, while also maintaining a focus on sustainable building practices. In addition, the area has a deep socio-political history that demanded attention and respect. River Residence was built in three phases: the first is represented by the traditional Georgian colonial-style home built in the early 19th century. The second phase involved a ground-floor addition built in the early 1980s. For the third and final phase, Joeb Moore & Partners LLC were tasked with building an addition that made a distinct and modern statement, while also tying the structure’s disparate visual languages into a cohesive whole.
“There is a productive tension between tradition and innovation. And that threshold is one we are always trying to navigate,” said Moore. An academic by training and vocation, Moore brings that interrogatory spirit into his design practice. From within, Moore imbued the transitional spaces, hallways, and stairways, with a cadence that acts as a palate cleanser, preparing the visitor for the room that follows. In this way the whole building hums with a certain rhythm, leaving surprising details to be found in every corner.
Location Washington Depot, CT
Client Private owner
Size 4,040 ft2
Program Private Residence
Architect Joeb Moore & Partners LLC
Landscape Architect Dirk Sabin Landscape Design
Builder & General Contractor Berkshire Wilton Partners LLC
Interior Design Nest Decor, Inc.
Structural Engineer DiBlasi Associates, P.C.
Mechanical Engineer Encon Heating & Air Conditioning
Project Framer & Trim Carpenter KSP Construction LLC
Hardware Katonah Architectural Hardware Glass Fabricator K-Man Glass Corp
Moore’s team was also focused on adaptive re-use: “We dove into the history of the structures in an effort to attain cultural stability and resilience, as much as ecological balance.” After initial investigations, the team determined that the original foundation and framing were suitable. With respect to the traditions of the region, the team removed the walls on the ground floor to organize a Great Room focused on wood-burning fireplaces that would have similarly attracted their historical forebears.
In respect to the site’s idyllic landscape, Moore chose to engage the residence with its surroundings. The team built a berm that covers the first floor and helps the home literally blend into the landscape. The home’s most distinct exterior feature is the wooden lattice wall extending from the original home. Inspired by the history of demarcating walls in the region, the lattice-work invokes both the natural beauty of the surrounding forest, while also helping support the environmental status of the building. Combined with the berm, the lattice provides natural shade from the sun and operates as a windbreak and insulation during winter months. With deft subtlety, the reimagined front of the home performs Joeb Moore’s belief that design and aesthetics are inseparable and that one necessarily informs the other.
The dedication to green building practices can be traced throughout River Residence. Other features include: high-efficiency geothermal HVAC system, permeable paving, sub-slab drainage system, insulated ducts, LED lights and more. Today, the home with centuries old roots, nears the modern ideal of net zero energy usage.
In choosing a building partner, Moore looked to Berkshire Wilton Partners LLC, as the company possesses a similar adventurous and collaborative spirit. Berkshire Wilton then, in turn, sub-contracted KSP Construction to handle the framing and carpentry on the project, resulting in a true team effort.
Moore presents contemporary architecture as a holistic effort requiring input, insight and collaboration between a wide range of experts. In his design practice, he presides over a “roundtable” of experts that includes structural engineers, climate scientists, ecologists and many others. But first and foremost, there must be collaboration and respect shared between the home’s owner, architect, and builder. With River Residence, Joeb Moore and his team transformed a home and an ecology.