Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio
reveals its age with a fading cedar facade

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Cedar shingles typical to New England houses have gradually faded from warm beige to a soft greyish brown on the walls of this residence in Maine by Los Angeles office Bruce Norelius Studio (+ slideshow).

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade
Recent photograph of the house, courtesy of Kelly Bellis

Bruce Norelius Studio completed House on Punkinville Road in 2008 for a couple looking for a change of lifestyle as well as a new residence. Five years on, the pair say the best quality of the house is its adaptability to the changing seasons.

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade
Recent photograph of the house, courtesy of Kelly Bellis

"During a snowstorm, we don't watch the storm, we're inside the storm," said the client. "The amount of glass and the way the glass is placed takes every advantage of the site. And the sun is a constant presence."

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

He continued: "As the light changes from hour to hour, from room to room, from season to season, it changes the rooms. The living area is not the same room at sunset as it was at sunrise, nor is it the same in winter as it is in the spring."

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

Located several kilometres inland from Smelt Cove, the house sits on an elevated site surrounded by juniper trees and blackberry bushes. A concrete base grounds the structure into the landscape, while the main walls are all clad with the humble cedar shingles.

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

"It's gratifying to know the clients are enjoying life here, even during the harsh Maine winters," said the architects. "The facades are simple, confident and holding true, telling their time naturally, which is a narrative we continue to embrace in our work."

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

The building is primarily made up of two rectilinear volumes stacked over one another to create an L-shaped plan. This creates a sheltered driveway at ground level and a generous roof terrace on the first floor.

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

Proportions were based around a prefabricated window module, which is used throughout. Combined with a specification for a simple timber structure, this design concept allowed the architects to deliver the project on a low budget.

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

The interior layout was also kept as simple as possible, with a pair of bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor and an open-plan living, dining and kitchen space above.

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

Photography is by Sandy Agrafiotis, apart from where otherwise indicated.

Here's a project description from Bruce Norelius Studio:


House on Punkinville Road

The genesis of this project came from the clients, a couple who had lived many years in a treasured 19th century cape, and who sought a significant change in lifestyle. Their deep appreciation of that cape and its particular relationship with its site made them realise that their new site - a spectacular inland promontory on ledge, juniper and blueberries with extensive views - required a very different architectural solution.

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

The concept that evolved was a perpendicular stacking of two simple volumes. This allowed a relatively small footprint on a pristine site, and also created useful negative space - a carport below, and an expansive deck above. Furthermore, it guaranteed that the house took advantage of the entire site, ensuring each space its own particular, appropriate relationship to sun, passive solar gain, and views.

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

The plan is simple and rigorous, based on the module of a single prefabricated window unit that is used throughout. The entirely-wood structural system was edited and refined to allow speed and clarity in the construction process.

Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade

The sober expression of the house responds intentionally to the climatic demands of the site, and is clad humbly in white cedar shingles, the most traditional of New England building materials, and exactly what was used on that cape built a century and a half ago.

Ground floor plan of Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

The priority on the interior was to create calm spaces deeply influenced by the seasons and weather. A remarkably low construction cost was achieved because of the clients' ability to prioritise goals, the design team's search for simplicity in both aesthetics and construction techniques, and the builder’s ability to propose alternative, less expensive solutions for aspects of the building.

First floor plan of Maine residence by Bruce Norelius Studio reveals ageing with a fading cedar facade
First floor plan - click for larger image
  • Z-dog

    Great work! Lovely human sized spaces and a delicate hand with the materials. Plan is very well considered too!

    Love the line “remarkably low construction cost”. If you can do that, the clients will come calling.