There was a house originally built in 1960. In 2006, renovation and addition to the original house was designed, and its construction completed in 2008.
The original house was transformed into a grotesque form entirely covered in a dark skin. The manner in which an ordinary house is transformed into a mysterious object is inspired by the symbolic narrative strategies found in Franz Kafka’s novel “The Metamorphosis”. Thus this house is named “Villa Metamorphosis”.
The house is located at about 100 miles north of New York City, near Woodstock, near Catskill mountains. The rear of the house is very private with views of trees and Catskill Mountains beyond. The front of the house is very open and there is a view of a lake far beyond.
Most visitors to the house today, however, does not realize that the house is an addition and renovation of what was once an ordinary house.
The landscape of geometric mythology
In addition to Villa Metamorphosis, other structures such as House of Solitude, Sky Mirror, and Gate Towers are designed to formally define the relationship between the house and the larger landscape in which the house is situated.
As one approaches the house from the parking, one experiences the sequence of these objects as a choreographed theme, an idea named “The Landscape of Geometric Mythology”. It was designed as if a series of mysterious objects from unknown planet have landed on this peaceful landscape with a story to tell. Various symbolic geometries found in this project are meant to play integral parts of the whole as a myth, a contemporary architectural myth.
Flatness of facades
The house and its surroundings are designed with fluid arrangements of three dimensional intents. Whether one is inside of a house or outside in the landscape, depending on a location, spatial experience changes qualitatively from one location to the next, ranging from enclosure to openness, symmetry to asymmetry, flat to volumetric.
The house has 3 facades. Seen as elevations, they can be represented in strategically two dimensional compositions. Each facades of south, east and west wall, is independent from each other, and each is meant to be seen as an autonomous system of its own.
However, this ‘flatness” of façade does not mean this project is a mere graphic exercise, but the intent is quite contrary to being flat. “Flatness” in space in turn emphasizes the three dimensional depth of space created between 3 facades.
While formally very sculptural, the design was based on pragmatic needs to provide privacy from neighbors, while admitting light to make the interior bright. Thus, there are no windows facing west and east, where neighbor’s houses can be seen. Large windows were placed on south wall where a desirable view of open field beyond need to be emphasized. These new large fixed windows were placed where there were originally a series of double hung windows in the original house. Designs of these new windows are abstract, yet still reminiscent of what was there originally.
Light and silence are the main substance of the interior at this house. Curved wall with folded roof in the addition space is shaped in such relation to the angle of the sunlight that it collects sunlight all day long. In a peaceful silence, one can spend a day in this house observing how the light quality changes throughout the day. The ceiling was framed by 43 wood trusses of different shapes generated by computer modeling. The exterior was made by custom fabricated asphalt shingle with vinyl batten providing additional protection against wind forces. The interior of the curved ceiling is made of stucco with popcorn texture with the interior line texture that is the reverse image of the exterior skin texture.
Movement of body
As one enters the house, the ceiling of the existing house is an average height of 8’. The new, high ceiling space created with the addition can be seen beyond openings made to the existing wall. Its ceiling is hidden from view seen from the existing house part, but as one enters the addition space area, the space becomes larger horizontally and vertically, while revealing the design of ceiling.
Four cantilevering planes out of bedroom wall collect light and bring them into interior by diffusing the light, like a brush catching lights.
Custom designed operable louver made of translucent corrugated polycarbonate panels were attached to the wall at the bedrooms facing west. A neighbor’s house to the west can be seen from bedrooms, so these louvers provide visual privacy. But when desired, panels can be opened for viewing.
When it rains, the sound of rain hitting the louver can be listened as a sound. One may simply enjoy it as a therapeutic background sound, or even go further to interpret it as a convergence of everyday life and art, reminiscent of John Cage’s music or Junichiro Tanizaki’s writing.