A steep escarpment and a wooded site shaped Frank Harmon’s design for the Strickland-Ferris Residence in Raleigh, North Carolina. Built for Lynda Strickland, a North Carolina native who returned home after a couple of decades of living in Washington, D.C., and other places, the 1,800-square-foot house perches above the ground, supported by nine wood trusses sitting on concrete columns. “We knew we had to raise the house off the ground and let the water flow under it,” says Harmon. The strategy not only preserved the site’s hydrological patterns but allowed the architect to build without cutting down any major trees in the 150-year-old beech-and-oak forest.
To collect rainwater (for use in irrigating the forest floor), Harmon designed a butterfly roof with a gutter running along its crease. “It looks like a Wright flyer,” says the architect, referring to the first plane launched by the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, about 200 miles away. The flight imagery is particularly strong as you drive up to the house and see just the roof floating above a band of windows wrapping around the top of the building. Below this transparent “cornice,” though, the house presents a mostly opaque face to the street, with cement board protecting the interior from the southern sun and views from neighboring houses. Deep eaves also shade the upper glass band from direct rays of the sun.