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A Present-Day Take on a New England Barn

This modern timber frame home is sleek, linear, ecofriendly—and pays homage to the land.



Photo by Oliver Mint

This weekender home sits on 120 acres of wooded terrain and boasts what its architect Ben Albury of Amalgam Studio describes as a “modern vernacular” style, reminiscent of the farmhouses and barns of New England, with a gabled roof, open layout, and strong connection to its site. Not only does the dwelling incorporate local-inspired materials, but it also keeps the wellbeing of the environment in mind.

The home is designed as a type of “passivhaus,” a German term referring to a rigorous set of standards that reduce the home’s ecological footprint. Examples of the home’s energy-efficiency include an airtight membrane, triple glazing, superinsulation, and heat provided by a multi-room, multi-pump system as well as fireplaces and wood stoves.

The result is a sophisticated, open, and airy abode that feels almost like it arose from its site with the early morning mist and surrounding plush grasses.


Photo by Oliver Mint

The 100-foot-long main house structure is made up of 14 repetitive “bent” frames, spaced at 8-foot centers. These 22-foot-wide, 21-foot-high charred Douglas Fir frameworks were raised one-by-one and bolted upright into place within five hours. "Much like the traditional community barn-raising events of the past,” Albury says, “the entire timber structure of the home was raised in one day.”


Photo by Jesse Turnquist

The linear home is clad in “plantation pine” treated with a bio-based liquid, creating a material that performs like hardwood and is insect-proof, rot-resistant, and mold-resistant. Unpainted and unstained, the siding supports the ultimate goal of a home that can last 100 years and require no exterior maintenance.


Photo by Chris Kendall

The 5,000-square-foot home is comprised of a lower level, a ground level, and a loft. The open-concept great room, located on the ground level, is bright and full of natural light. Striking Douglas fir timbers—the pinnacle of farmhouse-style architecture—are burnt to accentuate their natural grain.

“One of our favorite parts of this project was working with Amalgam Studio and Black Oak Builders to get the right finish for the timber frame,” says Eric Fraser, Timber Frame Division Manager of New Energy Works. “The process involved multiple steps, including the charring, and it really allows the Douglas fir to take on a new look from what we’re used to seeing in traditional timber frames.”


Photo by Chris Kendall

Inspired by trees in the area and sourced from a local lumberyard, white oak was chosen for the home’s floor and ceilings, as well as walnut for the cabinetry and hickory for vanity units. A large fireplace crafted of local stone anchors one end of the home and partitions a cozy sitting nook beyond.­­­­


Photo by Jesse Turnquist

Mirroring the fireplace, a white, clean-lined kitchen also takes center stage. Along the north- and south-facing sides of the home, eight-foot-by-eight-foot sliding glass doors allow for the open layout to expand even farther into the surrounding landscape.


Photo by Oliver Mint

The tilt-up sun-shading devices can be lifted up by hand, so the owners and their guests can enjoy time on the deck. 


Photo by Jesse Turnquist

When both sides are open, a breeze can move straight through the home—seamlessly connecting the owners to the land and the mountainous views beyond.

“An advantage of using a timber structure is that it is self-supporting and allows designers to put windows and doors nearly anywhere. It’s a great way to take advantage of vistas and design a home around the land,” says Fraser.


Photo by Oliver Mint

Photo by Oliver Mint

When down, the shades create an almost poetic effect on the airy space. They also double as hurricane shutters in the event of severe storms.


Photo by Oliver Mint

The indoor-outdoor connection continues to the home’s master suite.


Photo by Oliver Mint

Photo by Jesse Turnquist

Photo by Oliver Mint

Even the skylights are triple glazed, including the 18-foot-long skylight over the stairwell.

“On one hand, it’s a very simple frame,” says Fraser, “which fits the style the team was looking for. On the other, it’s highly sophisticated with its fit and finish—the metal work, careful consideration of line and intent, the blending of materials. In the end it’s a great example of taking timber framing beyond the traditional lodge-look and highlighting its strengths in modern design: the ability to create open spaces, a contrast of natural materials through finish, and weight in design.”


Photo by Jesse Turnquist

Photo by Oliver Mint

DESIGN DETAILS:

ARCHITECTURE & INTERIORS Amalgam Studio CONSTRUCTION Black Oak Builders TIMBER FRAME New Energy Works

Deanna Varble is Creative Director at New Energy Works, a company that designs and builds timber-frame homes using kiln dried and reclaimed timbers, environmentally responsible practices, and state-of-the-art technology. Contact them 800.486.0661.

Content for this article provided by New Energy Works.

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