Designed by Joseph Biondo Architect, this house situated in a typical nondescript subdivision of Eastern Pennsylvania, surrounded by other single-family houses of all shapes and sizes. The base of the home is constructed of concrete. This seemingly unnatural mixture of fluid stone and steel reinforcement is quite sufficiently different from historical materials. However, it is a material that offers the rough, tactile charm that often emanate from the irregularities of mature buildings. Deliberately crude in its execution, the concrete monolith is treated as an existing condition, or ruin, whose subsequent wood-framed, cementitious clad boxes are carefully inserted. The ruin’s powerful presence is derived from its material qualities and from the way it is linked to the ground. It penetrates into the earth and engages a platform which becomes clearly defined as the topography falls away.
This house is an architecture that involves all the senses. The surfaces and details demand to be felt. The spaces and special sequences require to be grasped by the senses that apprehend gravity, driving forces, and temperature. Details involving human contact such as entrance areas, steps, handles and hand rails are treated with particular care. The restricted tolerances of construction elegantly contrasts with the random nature of the organic while the massing, textures, and unevenness of weathering surfaces transmit similar sensations to the landscape.
This single-family, three bedroom home deviates in scale and appearance from the neighboring houses. The main living area, whose face is half buried into the landscape, offers no views to the east except that of its walled courtyard. It is to be a peaceful place, a kind of oasis sheltered from sound and views of the subdivision thus creating an outdoor room that opens to the sky. The interior space is open, intimate, and neutral with domestic objects articulated as furnishings placed within. Hues of blue skin echo the mottled limestone quarried here. The concrete is allowed to age, become rough and perhaps slowly erode. Eventually, gravel will be exposed and particles of dirt, algae, and moss will take hold. – Photos by Steve Wolfe