The Princeton House sits in a long thin 3-acre site, a former White Pine tree farm, 10 minutes from Princeton University. The site is punctuated by the 100 foot tall trees in a grid that is consistent running north-south across the site and shifting in the east-west direction. The water table is high with the possibility of flooding caused by surface or subsurface water. These conditions, the tall thin trees and flooding concerns drove the decisions to lift the house off of the ground and to place most of the living area on a single raised level so that the strata of tree trunks, largely devoid of leaves, was framed from a series of large windows. There are also large windows that frame an internal void, a courtyard open to above and below, where a tall thin tree is placed, it’s trunk also visible but in a greatly reduced scale from the existing trees. This tree and the operable windows configure an air-flow methodology in the house that cools the interiors.
Organizationally, the house spirals around the void. The spaces of the house and the circulation through the house occur in a spiral. One enters the house from below under cover and then moves up and circularly around the void and then up again to a third level bedroom. From a careful study of site factors, the spiral as an overriding organization was determined. As a result, the house takes on a facetted torus shape and the room configurations describe an expanding nautilus. Once the spiral of the ramp was expanded, the center of the house was freed up to become a naturally ventilating void.