Allied Works Architecture explores hierarchies of viewing with a guest house in Dutchess County, New York. Not surprisingly, enlisting dramatic means to frame the landscape has obsessed any number of architects over the centuries. Windows, colonnades, arcades, loggias, and pergolas all represent architectural interventions that heighten the perception of the landscape for its observers.
While early Modernists, such as Le Corbusier, Rudolph Schindler, and Richard Neutra, demonstrated how linear structural elements could achieve this framing effect with a minimum of materials, Brad Cloepfil, of Allied Works Architecture, takes this impulse to an even more abstract level. For a 1,300-square-foot guest house in Dutchess County, New York, he designed a linear, 8-by-8-inch square-tube steel frame to contain the single-story volumes of a two-bedroom cottage, and continued it outdoors to demarcate the forest setting. Cloepfil enclosed the walls of the structure with santos mahogany and clear low-E glass so that the building fits chameleonlike into its thicket of oak, hickory, and birch trees. Mahogany continues on the roof plane as well, since it will be visible from the main house (also designed by Cloepfil) being built on a hill to the west.
The clients, a married couple who collect art, wanted the guest house to be somewhat near their weekend home, yet still afford all parties a sense of privacy. Perched on a small rise, the rectilinear structure’s living and sleeping areas face east, where they overlook a meandering creek.