Site size: 6,000 square feet
Project size: 5,393 square feet
A family living in Cambridge, Massachusetts asked Turin-based architects Alessandro Armando and Manfredo di Robilant to overhaul their gabled, 19th-century house. In addition to improved insulation, the clients wanted privacy, but also views to the street.
The site occupies a dense residential block located between Harvard and MIT campuses.
For the renovation, the architects maintained the spirit of the old, three-story house on the interior leaving the original beams exposed, while adding a sleek, contemporary exterior. An entrance on the east facade opens into the kitchen and dining areas on the right, and a living room on the left. On the northeast corner of the living room, the architects added floor-to-ceiling mahogany-framed windows and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. A staircase leads to the second and third floors, which contain bedrooms, a studio, and a playroom. Most notably, the architect reconciled the client's need for both privacy and openness by creating sliding aluminum panels that can slide to cover the large glazed portions of the exterior.
The architect reinforced the original timber structure, added insulation to the existing walls, and then covered them with a skin of translucent plastic panels. This layer promotes airflow in-between the skin and the timber walls in the summer, while keeping the house warm in the winter.
Alessandro Armando - Manfredo di Robilant,
Architect of record:
Manfredo di Robilant + Samir Srouji
Sami Kassis, structural
Window timber frame:
Martin Lucyk Landscape Construction Inc.
Timber, only the sliding shutters of the big window have a concrete base.
Other cladding unique to this project:
Exterior Layer: Transparent Plastic Panels Rodeca: PC 2540-7, with UV protection on the exterior face.
Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
A thick layer of rigid insulating panels, separated by an in-between air chamber from the (also insulating) Rodeca panels, ensure a high level of insulation in both winter and summer. The roof, painted with very light grey, reduces the need for summer AC.