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House Minimal Impact On Nature

The New York architect Maria Milans del Bosch has designed a house and a studio in the Catskills with interventions that take the natural surroundings into account. The house is called Camp O.

The house, which has a long and narrow footprint, is also on a slope to minimize the impact of the construction on the surrounding forest. Two different volumes make up the apartment and are covered with roofs sloping in opposite directions. A concrete slab and a U-shaped retaining wall form the lower level, while the upper part of the house is clad in cedar wood. The wood is charred using a Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban, which burns wood to protect it from damage from insects, water, and fire.

A feature of the design is a double-height living room and kitchen that are flanked by large sections of the glazing. It is on different levels to enjoy the view of the mountains to the west and the treetops to the east. Inside the house, structural wooden beams remain exposed, the sloping roof covered with wood and concrete. These simple materials were chosen to reflect neighboring barns. On the first floor there is an office space for the architect, who looks into the living room and overlooks the expansive view outside. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a reading area are also on the first floor.

The glazing is also strategically placed to optimize natural ventilation and light, while insulating the outside of the walls and roof to improve the house’s energy efficiency. Camp O is equipped with radiant floors and Viroc, a composite of cement and wood fiber that has good thermal retardation and is water-resistant and used in several rooms.

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