House Rules

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Timber Home Living - - Contents - Ty Allen, AIA, is the De­sign-Build Man­ager at New En­ergy Works Tim­ber­framers.

We’ve said it time and time again — when it comes to cre­at­ing your dream home, there’s no such thing as too much plan­ning, re­search­ing and dis­cussing with your de­sign team. But where do you start? As it turns out, some­times the most ba­sic think­ing can spur the con­ver­sa­tion and re­sult in a home that suits your very spe­cific needs.

“As hu­mans, one of our most ba­sic and pri­mal drives is to cre­ate shel­ter,” says Ty Allen, de­sign di­rec­tor at New En­ergy Works Tim­ber­framers in Far­mville, New York. “Out of an in­stinct for sur­vival we sep­a­rate our­selves from, and con­trol how we re­late to, the en­vi­ron­ment. The sun, the rain, the wind and the cold are all nat­u­ral, but too much of any one can be haz­ardous. Through the ages we’ve em­ployed the ma­te­ri­als around us, mix­ing them with hu­man in­tel­li­gence, to build things to keep us dry, warm and safe.”

And then some­thing in­ter­est­ing hap­pens. “Al­most at the same mo­ment we cre­ate bound­aries and edges, we then try to break them down,” he says, “but only to a level that we are com­fort­able with. We

be­gin to make holes so that we can ac­cess the sur­round­ings we have just cut our­selves off from. We de­sire to see the grass, feel the sun’s warmth, and smell the fresh breeze. We feel the ten­sion of want­ing to be im­mersed in that which is most nat­u­ral to us while need­ing to gain phys­i­cal sep­a­ra­tion from those el­e­ments.”

So, what does this say about how and what we de­sign and build? “It should in­spire us to look for new and in­ter­est­ing ways to al­low the in­hab­i­tants of the shel­ters we make to re­con­nect with their sur­round­ings,” Allen says. “As de­sign­ers, we chal­lenge our­selves to help homes en­gage and in­ter­act in new ways. Rather than tra­di­tional meth­ods, such as porches and decks, how else can we re­con­nect?”

To de­cide for your­self (and your fu­ture home), Allen sug­gests ask­ing your­self th­ese ques­tions to get started: How do you want to en­gage with your out­door en­vi­ron­ment? Di­rectly on the ground level? Through framed views? In large gath­er­ing spa­ces or in­ti­mate pock­ets?

What in­door ver­sus out­door needs do you and your fam­ily and friends have? Will you host fre­quent large gath­er­ings that over­flow from in­side to out­side? Oc­ca­sional out­door pri­vate par­ties? Morn­ing cof­fee with a view?

“By an­swer­ing th­ese ques­tions and shar­ing your an­swers with your de­signer, the shel­ter you call a home has the ca­pac­ity to be so much more than walls, a roof and win­dows,” Allen ex­plains. “It can be a lens, a fil­ter and a bridge, al­low­ing us to care­fully and de­lib­er­ately reestab­lish our re­la­tion­ship with the en­vi­ron­ment we have worked so hard to pro­tect our­selves from.”

Cre­at­ing pri­vate bal­cony space rather than a full wrap­around porch pro­vides this mas­ter suite space for quiet re­pose, meet­ing a de­sire for in­ti­macy while a larger porch on the lower level of the home ac­com­mo­dates larger pub­lic gath­er­ings.

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