The Lakeside Dwelling fit for Three Generations of Inhabitants

How do you cater to three generations under one roof whilst providing a mixture of both private and social spaces? New York City firm Scalar Architecture’s approach, with their design for Anker-Jordan Residence located in Ossipee Lake, New Hampshire, was to conjoin two prisms as the basis for a sophisticated and nuanced living space.


Scalar Architecture, headed by principal architect Julio Salcedo and associate architect Murilo Machado Candido and known for their innovative commercial, residential and public projects, were not just tasked with designing for three generations’ worth of inhabitants. They were also designing for a location with a plethora of its own needs depending on the time of year.


Standing amongst trees by a lake and enduring north-western winds, the Anker-Jordan Residence’s ribbed metal roofing exterior shell makes it particularly effective at providing habitability in an environment that deals in harsh weather conditions. In summer, southern light exposure provides plenty of respite.


We sat down for a chat with the project’s eco-minded principal designer, Julio Salcedo.

THE PLUS: How did the idea for the conjoined prism design come about?
Julio Salcedo:
There were multiple factors that lead us to the conjoined prism design. Perhaps the most pressing one was the need to spatialise and nuance the particular elements for the different generations inhabiting the cottage. A second related idea was the need to have architectural and programmatic discussions both – where parts speak to each other. To have a singularly defined structure, no matter how environmentally suitable it is, is less rich in many levels. Finally, domesticity and the site required a close look at dimensions and scales and these required a certain multiplicity.


TP: Which emotions does the Anker-Jordan Residence evoke the most?
It is one of a calm but unforeseen discovery. The cottage is the midst of evergreen and deciduous trees surrounded by a calm lake, so in a sense the interaction is almost haptic. It is very primal; very up close experience that allows the site to maintain its one natural phenomenology. The envelope is both monolithic in its presence and camouflaged in its colour, scale and oblique plays. Once inside, the emotions oscillate between a sense of reflection around the centrally lit spaces and a sense of play in the way family members and spaces inter-relate.


TP: How did you approach natural light in the design, given that the building is in amongst trees?
As you well point out, the forest is such a desirable environment albeit the lack of light intensity. Through our modelling and simulation process, we concluded that our light and solar catchment both ought to come from up high and from the south. This was quite a breakthrough as we had at first planned on more northern exposures. We also did not have the luxury of glass everywhere; the environmental performance and very limited budget precluded such approach. Hence, very controlled skylights and well placed windows maximise the access to light.


TP: Tell us about the metal walls – you used metal roofing as an outer layer?
Yes, we very much insisted on the house being a magical object in the forest that one may see and touch up close from the lake. A camouflaged monolith prism. In this sense the roof and the walls were one and the same. The ribbed surface is also a bit haptic as walking between trees. It’s also of note that resilience to the evergreens and the heavy snow fall were critical concerns.


TP: Where was the furniture sourced from?
Our clients are currently working in Europe so a lot of the sourcing was then via the internet and then he was happy it was up to us to go to the store rooms and really test as many pieces as we could.

TP: What’s your favourite feature of the overall design?
I think the opening up spaces and views to the lake was in the way the EC unexpected part was challenging and very rewarding what is the south side not facing the lake and the conversation with two different scales volumes and skylights are able to maintain.


TP: What do you enjoy about residential projects?
I enjoy working up close with people regarding their most personal spaces as a kind of agency to their interactions and perception. There are projects where you can create a particular universe and then materialisation of the universe happens relatively quickly.


TP: In your opinion, how should contemporary architecture balance tradition with innovation in projects such as this?
I think a lot of contemporary architecture is so lacking in sources, referents, and in seeking to expand the discipline through relationships to all sorts of things. In this project we seek to relate to some historical experiments that were taking place around the time of the collapse of the modern movement and the energy crisis. We also really enjoyed delving into geometry and parametrics to posit new responsive ways of informing architecture. Ultimately, there’s also a question of how morphology can define environment and I think, in this sense, contemporary architecture can also do a lot more.


Photographs: Miguel de Guzman, Imagen Subliminal