You can’t see it, and yet it’s still there. After an immense green opening between evergreens, soaring pines and rough shrubs, Ledge House by Desai Chia Architecture interrupts the forest blanketing the Connecticut Valley with chameleonic grace. Conceived as a large rocky ledge (as the name would suggest), it responds to the needs of the client to realize a residence resonating with the surrounding environment.
Behind the apparent simplicity that can be deduced from the use of a common material like wood, the estate hides a complex design structure made of nooks and recesses that trace the entire perimeter. While the long yet pointed roof shoots towards the sky like the lush greenery framing the house, a series of balconies and staircases give rhythm to the horizontal dimension of the house. “We removed an existing cabin that had been expanded in unsuccessful ways over time by a previous owner,” recount architects Katherine Chia, FAIA; & Arjun Desai AIA. “We were able to reuse the cabin’s foundation (which saved money and reduced construction waste) & add to it to simplify the footprint of the building while amplifying the program. The new footprint moved the house closer to an existing boulder — a prehistoric ‘glacial erratic’ that was deposited along with the ledge hundreds of thousands of years ago when the glaciers formed the Appalachian Mountains.”
The form of the home was inspired by the local barns and by the historic nearby West Cornwall Covered Bridge, realized in wood where the Sharon-Goshen Turnpike crosses the Housatonic River. While still maintaining a rough and materialistic facade, exteriors are clad with Shou Sugi Ban, an age-old ecological technique that involves burning the surfaces of wooden slats in order to render them more durable to outdoor conditions.
Inside, the living room, dining room and kitchen form the central nucleus of the property, which crosses the home in its entirety. Between warm and luminous finishes, space is made for a master suite on one end of the home, while the other welcomes two guest bedrooms. Shared areas thus allow the homeowners and visitors a space to come together and socialize in a large open loft, connecting the domestic dimension to nature through a terrace overlooking the nearby forest with blurred thresholds.