Shoreland Overlook Residence, Center Harbor, New Hampshire. Murdough Design Architects.
“Home for a couple, but also a retreat for their extensive network of family, friends, and professional colleagues to share and enjoy the idyllic lakeside setting. Accommodating 16+ guests for family and corporate retreats, musical performances, poetry readings, parties, dinners, and other gatherings, the project is comprised of the main house, guest house, an art studio, two offices, a gym, and other amenities.
Sited in a Beech-Hemlock forest on a sloping overlook near the lake’s shoreline, the house takes advantage of a northeast viewshed towards the lake and mountains beyond. The house is immersed in the naturally forested site with paramount importance given to outdoor living and creating connections with the site’s natural beauty.
The house utilizes the siting of a prior home, minimizing the impact on the forested site and nearby wetlands. No trees were removed to create a view, maintaining root systems for erosion control. The integrity of the shoreline was preserved, minimizing the visual impact of the house on the lake. Trees removed for purposes of construction were limited to a minimum. Tree shade, along with large roof overhangs and passive (cross) ventilation, enables summertime cooling. The house intentionally integrates and weaves the native understory landscape materials into the architectural design.
Site drainage is incorporated as a design feature. An upland drainage swale runs between the main house and guest house and under a connecting bridge. The swale incorporates erratic boulders and stones as well as ferns and mosses ultimately terminating in a natural wetland. Roof drainage via scuppers evacuates into a “wet” landscape feature of native plants and boulders at the entry of the house, highlighting the native condition as well as rain events (climate) as worthy of contemplation and enjoyment. All landscaping is designed without irrigation.
The materials of the house are natural and modern. The exterior palette of dark stained cedar siding and glass is designed to visually camouflage and recess the building into the forest. Muted natural materials indoors (Western Red Cedar, American Black Walnut, Granite) are used to create a warm and calm environment that highlights the natural landscape beyond via glazed or screened openings.
The program is broken into multiple volumes, not unlike old family compounds found around the lake. The massing and rooflines follow the natural topography of the crescent-shaped slope and optimize views and access to the landscape. Expansive roofs and decks create held outdoor spaces, link the different buildings together, and echo the topography’s natural undulations.
With movement through the building, an episodic disclosure of space and views unfold; the site is revealed through a framework of linked vantage points and framing devices. This is most evident at the entry breezeway and covered bridge, where geometries of adjacent buildings are connected and where distinctions are blurred between interior and exterior, architecture and landscape. Accessible measures ensure enjoyment for all occupants. (entry ramp, walk-in-tub, single-level access between house and guest house). Craft, detailing and construction create a quiet architecture that prioritizes a subjective experiential connection to the natural environment.”
Photo credit: Chuck Choi Architectural Photography