NO Architecture has arranged pavilions around a hexagonal courtyard to form a family nature retreat in rural Massachusetts that “reinterprets and expands on the typology of the glass house”.
The Flower House is located in the Berkshires, a scenic region known for its wooded hills, rich farmland and cultural venues.
The vacation home – which served as a full-time residence during the coronavirus pandemic – was created for a married couple with two children in their twenties and a teenage son. The house sits on shared property with the husband’s parents, whose barn-like weekend home is up the road.
Providing a connection to nature was a guiding concern for the project team at NO Architecture, a New York studio founded by architect Andrew Heid.
Taking inspiration from the terrain, as well as modern glass houses, the team designed a series of rectangular volumes with overlapping roofs that are organized around a central hexagonal courtyard.
From above, the house resembles the outline of a flower, hence the name of the project.
“The project reinterprets and develops the glass house typology through its dynamic relationship with the indigenous landscape and a plan configuration that organizes the six interlocking pavilions in ‘petals’ around a central, open courtyard,” said the studio.
The exterior walls consist of large panes set in load-bearing window frames. Abundant glazing provides views and a connection to the landscape.
Part of the 3,512-square-foot (326-square-meter) home is embedded in a berm — a condition that provides thermal insulation while “modulating interior spaces along spectra from open to closed, public to private, at above and below level,” the team said.
The layout provides a clear division between private and public spaces.
To the west, where the house is partly below ground level, the team placed bedrooms and bathrooms. Clerestory windows provide natural light.
Going down to the east, we find the common areas – a living room in a pavilion, and a dining and kitchen area in an adjoining volume.
Beyond the contours of the site, the orientation of the pavilions was influenced by exposure to the sun. Roof overhangs help protect against the weather and provide shade on hot days.
Structurally, the house is supported vertically by its window frames, with lateral stabilization provided by T- and L-shaped cores that conceal shear walls.
“Structurally, each pavilion functions as a Miesian umbrella diagram – a canopy open on all sides – with an exposed concrete slab on the ground below,” the team said.
The bathrooms, storage and mechanical space are housed in the structural cores. The rest of the interior consists of column-less rooms providing unobstructed sight lines and freedom of movement.
“By striving to clarify and reduce the profile of the architectural components, we strike a balance for the spatial exuberance of the structure, while emphasizing the landscape and the program,” the team said.
Other homes in the Berkshires include a geodesic dome with triangular windows that was renovated by Jess Cooney Interiors and a sculptural white house by Taylor and Miller that features projections that beckon to a lake and the sky.
Photography is by NO Architecture, unless otherwise stated.
Architect: NO architecture
Crew: Dana AlMathkoor, Maria Carriero, Yan Chen, Jennifer Diep, Sbrissa Eleonora, Andrew Heid, Yawen Jin, James Kubiniec, Chung Ming Lam, Jean Lien, Naifei Liu, Alberto Andrés Silva Olivo, Jie Xie, Jialin Yuan, Daniel Zuvia
Collaborators: Quadresign Inc, Madden & Baughman Engineering, Inc, Patrick Cullina Horticultural Design