Inspired by barns familiar to the New York countryside, this long, linear home situated on rural acreage overlooks the rolling hills of the Hudson Valley. Designed by Amalgam Studio of NYC and built by Black Oak Builders, the cadence of a series of repeating trusses define the high, light-filled, and airy interior canvas.
“The open setting and the rural, agricultural, and historic nature of the property brought us very quickly to the concept of a “modern barn”, explains the project architect, Ben Albury, Principal of Amalgam Studio. “I researched vernacular barns of the area and looked at three historic forms in particular: the New World Dutch Barn, the English Barn (or 3-Bay barn) and the New England Barn. These contextual archetypes informed the overall form.”
We began with kiln dried Douglas fir timbers, crafting the traditional gable shape with a modern integration of blackened steel bottom chords and embedded metal connectors. A custom, multi-step finish produced a darkened truss with more pronounced grain patterns. “The client and I both wanted to highlight the nature of the material used for the main structure. It wasn’t a steel portal frame so painting didn’t make sense.” Ben continued, “The process chosen highlights the beautiful grain of the timber, and gives it additional protection from UV damage. The darker tone sits well with the black metal elements, but also contrasts beautifully with the white oak interiors.”
Traditional timber braces, king posts, struts, and corbels were forgone to achieve a minimalist style truss to enhances the open, vaulted, modern feel of the interior. “The interior layout, the construction methods, the exposed framing and the material choices of the house–done with modern methodologies and techniques–nods to local massing forms and traditional construction. Also,” continued Ben, “I was pleased to witness all the pre-made ‘bents’ being hoisted into place in just one morning, much like the traditional barn raising of the bents from the times of New Holland.” (Bents: think of these as individual trusses with legs.)
A modern take in the decor includes large glass sliding barn-like doors that celebrate the surrounding landscape and add to the airy feel of the home. The south-facing glazing have tilt-up shading devices that when closed act as hurricane shutters. “If accidentally left open during a snowstorm, they’re designed to tip downwards under the weight of snow, cleverly shedding the accumulation in the process,” shared Ben.
The home has many Passivhaus elements, including an airtight membrane, super insulation, and triple glazing on all windows, skylights, entrance doors and the large 8′ x 8′ sliding patio doors. The SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) portion of the overall envelope were provided by Foard Panel, one of our long-standing collaborators. Heat recovery ventilation units combine with fireplaces and wood stoves to combat the cold NY winters.
Accolades to Ben/Amalgam Studio and Leathem/Black Oak Builders for creating this thoughtful project. Many thanks for including us in the process and allowing us to share our skills in the detailed timber work. If you’re interested in more contemporary or traditional timber frame projects see our galleries. Have a project design in mind? Reach out, we’d be glad to chat about how we can help.