NEW CANAAN HOUSE
The town of New Canaan, Connecticut, has a history of modern architecture that has inspired many contemporary architects. In the years following World War II, an unusual number of talented architects interested in the International Style and experimentation gathered here - including Philip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Marcel Breuer - contributing not only to the history of the town but also to the history of architecture.
This project is an addition to and a renovation of a carriage house built around 1900. A study, dining room, and kitchen were added in 1950, and a two-car garage in 1956. The site is a rural two-and-a-half acre parcel, sparsely wooded with a row of trees separating it from the adjacent property. The vernacular architecture of the area is known for its barns, covered bridges, and carriage houses. These vernacular features were analyzed, reinterpreted, and used as the main elements of the house, while the siting and interpenetration of the elements followed the modern cubist ideology of space-making.
One of the program’s requisites was the creation of a uniform identity for the new and old structures. A common entryway was created to tie the old and new structures together. The intention was to create an interplay of volumes within the familiar forms native to the rural northeast.
These volumes were conceived initially as independent structures which, through the exercise of volumetric penetration, began to connect and fit together precisely. The fact that the house’s volumes were structurally framed independently of each other allows each volumetric piece to retain its identity while becoming part of the greater architectural whole. From this system of operation, a number of distinctly different and autonomous spaces come together to create a harmonious architectural work.