The Hillsdale House is a weekend getaway in upstate New York. Located on the last eastern ridge, it overlooks the Berkshires to the east and the Catskills to the west. The uphill approach to the site is heavily veiled, without a hint of the views about to unfold. CR Studio's response to this dramatic site was to continue screening these views, revealing them gradually as one moves through the house. As the scheme developed, we sought to further mediate the long expansive views by contrasting them with views back to the more intimate courtyard landscape to the south.
The house is an "L" shape holding the north and west sides of the courtyard. A white cedar rainscreen skins the house and peels off to create the wood fencing of the south and east sides of the courtyard. Exterior sliding shutters, constructed as a solid rain screen, allow the house to be closed down during times when the owners are away. The landscape within the courtyard is a tended garden; outside the courtyard walls the landscape has returned to a more raw and natural state.
The two-story core of the house holds the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen with single-story public spaces extending off of it — a screened-in porch to the south and a large dining and living space to the east. Exterior porches transition and extend the interior living spaces out into the landscape. The eastern end of the living space culminates in a music room, an amateur passion for the clients. Views of a single sculptural birch tree, the layered mountains shrouded in mist, and a manicured vegetable garden, combined with the flow of the public spaces, inform the rich and varied experience of site and structure. The house is sited to take advantage of natural solar heating gains; it’s highly insulated and incorporates solar hot-water panels for radiant-floor heating, solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity and recycled materials throughout the interiors.
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