Haffendon House, a white box punctured in irregular windows, by PARA Project. This 1,125-square-foot three-story building, which contains a garage, writing studio/library, and reading room at the top, is wrapped in a 1-millimeter-thick swath of white fabric made of silicone-impregnated fiberglass. While the fabric is adhered with silicone to most of the exterior, it is not attached to the glazing on the front facade.
“The discipline of Haffenden House lies in its simplicity. The detailing is critical, because there’s nothing but the detailing to create the space. I can certainly imagine the luxury of reading and soaking in that tub.” – Janet Rosenberg / AZURE Magazine’s Awards
The New York firm, led by principal Jon Lott, devised a three-storey cuboid structure to sit alongside it, with a facade animated by rows of tiny windows, each one slightly askew. The 105-square-metre addition both contrasts and complements the main house while adding a vivid new dimension to the streetscape. Though the two sides connect via the second floor, the extension is otherwise a separate building, with a garage and a breezeway on the main level.
The exterior walls are swathed in a membrane of translucent silicon-impregnated fabric, which provides both privacy and light control. Inside, the malleable textile is repurposed as a curtain to cover a larger back window. This residential application of a material more often used in stadium roofing transforms the exterior by softening the building’s crisp lines.
Haffenden House is radical. It delivers on the desired library and writing studio, but it also embodies a profound sense of freedom and luxury. The white floors in the third-level reading room invite lounging anywhere, while a ceiling in gold leaf and a mirrored finish on the bookshelves bounce light throughout the space. On the second storey, a sunken tub at one end of the library takes reading in the bath to a new level. The deep concrete soaker doesn’t interfere with the blank-canvas aesthetic of the space, which is purposefully devoid of furnishings and adornments. It gives the owners the getaway they were after, a place to clear their minds and think, right on their doorstep.
The Haffenden House is a writing studio with a garage/breezeway at ground-level; library, bathtub, and writing space on the second-level; and reading room on the third-level. It addresses the suburban context and the repetitive image of “house” — creating a blank space for retreat, reflection, and writing.
The interior’s indifference to context provides seclusive space for work yet maximizes the amount of natural light through the structure’s section and skin. A bowl-shaped division in section separates the writing room from the reading space above, increasing indirect light for the second level and avoiding any association with the landscape on the third.
The result is a double-height volume at either end in plan (on level 2), with a low ceiling at the entry from the house to the studio, subtly dividing the writing area from the bathtub. The exterior — wrapped in a translucent silicon-impregnated fabric — doubly provides for a filtered light-filled volume without visual connection to the context.
In the rear yard, the fabric is used on the interior as a curtain, offering the owners flexibility to control their privacy. The library — made up of alternating openings, books, and mirrored bookends — collapses foreground and background into a single surface. The 3rd-level ceiling is gold-leafed, producing a vague reflective doubling of its hemispherical volume.
Project name: Haffenden House
Location: Haffenden Rd, Syracuse, New York 13210, United States
Coordinates: 43.027751, -76.122964
- Type By Characteristic: Green & Sustainable House, Tower House
- Type By Site: City / Town House
- Type By Size: Small House – (51 sqm – 200 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Plaster / Mortar / Masonry House
Project Area: 101 sqm / 1125 sqm
Completion Year: 2014
Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: PARA Project – 346 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn New York 11211, United States
Principal: Jon Lott
Project Team: Jon Lott, Hilary Pinnington, Paul Kneeply
Text Description: © Courtesy of PARA Project, AZURE Magazine’s Awards
Images: © PARA Project, Nathan Rader