Echo Lake House: Perched on the eastern shore of a small private lake in the Catskills of New York state, the house is a small 1500sf weekend getaway on a narrow 1/5 acre plot with 60’ of lake frontage. The essence of the house is a large two storied living space with a clear 20’ wide opening with folding glass doors which open completely onto a deck overlooking the lake. When fully opened, the living area and deck become one; bringing the outside in and inside, out. An open master bedroom bounded by skewed canted walls, appears to float over the living room with a simple kitchen wall rendered in all black materials and appliances nestled below. The site slopes down towards the lake so the main entry from the street occurs on the upper level next to stairs descending into the main space.
The simple minimalist geometry of the house as a plain rectangular box is an intentional contrast to most custom designed houses today both traditional and contemporary.
The house utilizes an exposed rainscreen system that allows 40% exposure of the primary barrier so it is wrapped in its entirety by a veil of redwood slats with slatted operable panels at window and door locations. These operable panels vary in size and are somewhat playful in method of operation: the panel over the front door slides out like a drawer; a panel concealing a stair to the roof folds down; a large panel on the south face slides up to reveal sliding glass doors while providing shade to a small roof deck; three large two story vertical bi-folding panels cover double-height glazing and outdoor lighting; french doors in the master bedroom open to a fold-down panel that makes a small balcony with a pop up awning; hinged panels cover all the smaller windows and a giant horizontal bi-folding panel covers almost the entire western face opening like an airplane hanger with two internally mounted electric hoists. When the owner is away, the whole house can be shuttered.
These panels act as an extra layer of security for the house, but also provide some privacy for the owner, mitigate wind exposure (reducing heating needs), sun exposure (no cooling needs) and eliminate bird strikes on the large glass areas (birds were hitting daily during construction). This panel shutter system could be employed with more decorative screens or on the practical side, with harder solid panels, that could provide higher security, higher insulation and protection from severe storms or even fires in vulnerable forest fire locations. In an era of climate change, this approach has great potential.