Our clients came to us to design and build the first phase of a project on their family’s property. This Solar Barn was designed and built to serve as gateway for the future family compound proposed for the 43,560 s.f. site which abuts a coastal protected wetland nature preserve. We challenged ourselves with designing a contemporary, energy-conscious, super-insulated structure which would also maintain the integrity of the classic barn style proven to stand the test of time.
We set out to construct a thoughtfully considered, well-detailed structure that responded to the needs of the clients and the site as well as the climatic environment. Our clients asked us to design an energy efficient building that eliminated the need for oil or gas on the site. The site and solar orientation dictated much of the design. The program was a multi-car garage, workshop, and two-bedroom guest suite. After many schematic iterations it became apparent that the living areas did not belong on the first floor. The site and views suggested the kitchen, living, dining, and bedrooms belonged on the second floor. A yoga studio and additional office/ guest room loft was also incorporated during design.
Our team promoted the use of both local businesses and materials throughout the building process. Notable features included 13 two-ton trusses of indigenous hemlock, local ash flooring, and locally harvested custom wood ceiling and wainscoting. On the exterior, the board and batten siding was made from locally harvested eastern white cedar. The kitchen cabinets were made entirely from framing scraps left on site by a local woodworker and all the custom steel details were made by a local metal shop. The repurposed wood kitchen was complemented by a black PaperStone counter made of compressed paper. We chose no finish for the wood beams and black exposed steel trusses. A local mill provided all the lumber for the trusses, roof deck, exposed ceiling, floor and siding.
By integrating external rigid insulation and a rain screen cladding system to provide a thermal break throughout, in addition to super insulated low-e windows, we were able to obtain a wall R-value of 35 and roof value of R50. The building’s vacuum tube solar hot water array was designed to supply almost all of the radiant heating and hot water needs and is supplemented with a wood stove as necessary. In addition to keeping the house comfortable when occupied, the building relies on the sun to keep the temperature up while the family lives at their primary residence in Boston. This system, designed by ReVision Energy, successfully maintains a temperature of 50-60 degrees throughout the winter months.
We believe a large factor in sustainability is timelessness in design. Too often ‘green’ products are quickly installed but they rapidly become outdated. This project represents our ideas that timelessness and sustainability can only be found in sensible detailing that responds to the actual needs of users and their environments. These are the buildings that are preserved by their communities over generations.