Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake reflects its surroundings with a mirrored facade


US firm KieranTimberlake has nestled a home into a rocky outcrop in New York State, with mirrored cladding that reflects the forested landscape and sky (+ slideshow).

Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake

Called the Pound Ridge House, the dwelling is situated on a south-facing site that rises over 100 feet (30 meters) as it ascends from a wetland to the top of a ridge.

The 33-acre (13-hectare) escarpment is strewn with boulders, trees and remnants of old farm walls. It is located in the town of Pound Ridge in Westchester County, which is about 50 miles (80 kilometres) outside of New York City.

Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake

"The owners were drawn to the almost magical sense of tranquillity they felt upon their first visit to this heavily forested land, striped with loose-laid fieldstone farm walls from the 19th century," said KieranTimberlake, which is based in Philadelphia.

"They wanted to live in a 'house in the woods, of the woods' – to feel the presence of the forest indoors and to commune quietly with nature and visit with guests within naturally lit, open, airy, warm rooms," added the firm.

Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake

Encompassing 5,250 square feet (487 square meters), the house is nestled into a rocky outcrop located just below the ridge.

The architects describe the plot as having two "rock-enclosed rooms – one positioned below with another space adjoining it above." A small ravine runs between the two.

Within these "rooms", the architects placed two volumes that respond to the site's topography, both in terms of composition and materials.

Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake

The volumes – one single level, the other double level – are connected by a glass-enclosed bridge.

"In response to the dramatic natural scenery, the house itself employs an economy of design that focuses on harmony with the landscape and elemental materiality," said the firm.

Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake

The exterior walls are clad in four different materials: zinc-coated copper, brushed stainless steel, polished stainless steel and glass.

The polished stainless steel – the most prominent cladding – acts as a mirror and reflects the surrounding terrain and sky.

"All materials were selected for long-term durability, and to honour both permanence and change, much as the weathered rock and high forest canopy endure yet evolve with day and season," said the firm.

Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake

The walls themselves are made of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), which help the building retain warmth.

Windows were strategically positioned to capitalise on heat gain in the winter, and open to enable cross-ventilation during warmer months, in turn reducing the need for mechanical cooling.

Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake

The single-level volume contains a living room, dining room, kitchen, small bathroom and media space. Outside, an outdoor terrace is covered by a wood-lined canopy.

The upper level of the two-story volume serves as a bedroom wing. Windows and skylights usher in bands of natural light. The lower level houses a garage, workshop, wine cellar and entry vestibule.

The home is accessed via an entry driveway that wraps around a small pond. "The drive up to the home moves across the slope in curving arcs that work with the contour of the land," said the firm.

Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake

Overall, the home's design is intended to provide a strong connection to the natural world.

"It explores an ethical aesthetic that is both evocative and performative – an aesthetic that aims first and foremost to induce wonder at both the timelessness and flux of the natural environment in which we live," said the firm.

Other recent projects in rural New York include a glass-box home by architect Jay Bargmann and a wood-clad dwelling by Foz Design.

Photography is by Peter Aaron at OTTO. All drawings are by KieranTimberlake.

Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake
Site diagram – click for larger image
Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake
Location plan – click for larger image
Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake
Site plan – click for larger image
Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake
Lower level plan – click for larger image
Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake
Upper level plan – click for larger image
Pound Ridge House by KieranTimberlake
Sections – click for larger image
  • jsg

    And if you put baskets under the mirrors and collect the dead birds you will save money. This house will pay for itself with all the money you can save on expensive chicken you would have to buy at the grocery store…

    • john

      I agree, mirrors are in my opinion no good way to “feel the presence of the forest indoors and to commune quietly with nature”. Rather, have a bang every now and then when a bird crashes into the façade.

      How can architects be so inconsiderate about the fact that birds cannot realise that there is a wall and not a space to fly into. There are good ways to apply patterns to the glazing and the mirrors or install screens that can also provide shading.

    • H-J

      Who says they didn’t apply a UV-layer on top of the glass that is invisible for humans but visible for birds? Products like that have existed for quite a while already, just Google it.

  • dwf

    Predictable bird comments.

  • agagnu

    Why is this a big deal? For related projects, one is reminded of Foster’s Dumas Faber in Norwich, the original source. Hats off to Lord Norman.

    • TFO

      Dominic Stevens’ Memetic House is a well-deserved residential antecedent/precedent as well, and probably done with more economic creativity.

  • cho cho

    The reflective cladding is not glass, but rather polished and brushed stainless-steel panels per the article.

    • James Karl Fischer

      Bird collisions remain an issue, due to the reflective nature of the material.

  • James Karl Fischer

    Predictable comments on birds are a good thing. At least it shows to architects that they have been ignoring the bird-window collision issue for far too long.

    Over a billion birds a year die in collisions with architectural windows, a sad fact that makes any claim of sustainability or nature-friendly comical at best and ‘greenwashing’ at worst. It may be that Ornilux, ceramic fritted glass or Walker products were used in this building, but it needs to be stated otherwise it makes it seem like the practice of using unprotected glass is acceptable.

    It is not, and a case can be made that it violates the AIA Code of Ethics, which demands compliance with local laws and sustainable practices. There may be no laws in place specifically stating the glass issue (although there are plenty of guidelines), but the Migratory Bird Act makes it clear that it is a Federal Crime to kill (or take’) endangered species.

    Unprotected glass on buildings does so, at an enormous scale. Although the issue has not yet been challenged in the courts, due to fears that architecture has been so bad in addressing this internally that the problem is too big to solve, it will be.

    Before that happens, architectural firms that are sympathetic to sustainable issues have to insist that every piece of architecture they design is bird-friendly, meaning no unprotected glass on exterior facades. It seems extreme, but it also seemed extreme to ban DDT in the 1970s, a toxin that had far less environmental effect than architectural glass does. The aesthetic has to change.