Joining rectilinear forms with a twist, UNStudio’s VilLA NM, in upstate New York, captures the landscape in gold reflections
Architects & Firms
Record Houses 2007
The client, a New York–based developer with a young family, had a clear goal: a weekend house “as exciting as anything by Neutra and Schindler.” With VilLA NM, he got it—in spades. The flat-roofed, taut, planar house in upstate New York, designed by UNStudio, of Amsterdam, both evokes its predecessors and pushes their architectonic qualities into a new realm.
The client and his wife, both aficionados of current design and art, encountered the work of UNStudio, headed by van Berkel and Caroline Bos, at the Museum of Modern Art’s 1999 Unprivate House exhibition. There, the couple (who themselves are very private) were drawn to the display of the firm’s attenuated Möbius House, built in Het Gooi, the Netherlands, in 1998, and inspired by the Möbius strip, the single-surface topological model. As van Berkel recalls, “They were fascinated by the way the design wove together living, working, and sleeping activities in a continuous movement.”
The client found 2 acres on a hilltop that commands spectacular views of rolling pastures and forests with no other houses in sight. Both he and his wife, who are originally from Russia, welcome changing seasons and wanted to watch turning leaves and falling snow while inside the house. The architects happily responded with what they called a “viewfinder dacha”—a 3,600-square-foot villa, which dramatically embraces the surrounding landscape through expansive glass walls.
But more unexpected are the swooping interior spaces forming the core of the house, which you first detect as you approach the front door and carport, tucked under the cantilevered bedroom wing: Here, the exterior wall of the south end lifts up in a gentle curve to meet the soffit above the entrance.
UNStudio: Evolution of Space, featuring the VilLA NM among other projects, is on view at the Yale School of Architecture Gallery, Yale University, New Haven, CT until May 4, 2007. The exhibition was originated by the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany.
CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Kitchen Island in Corian by Joel Miller, Sterling-Miller Designs, Inc., Brockton, MA; tel. 508 894 6999; www.sterlingmillerdesigns.com
Floor and wall tile:
Chairs: Utrect, Cassina