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Two-Volume House on a Fieldstone Wall

The architecture of this house is strongly influenced by the duality of the site’s topography and by the effects of the glacial climate on the land. Situated in the state of Wisconsin, the site has an uneven topography made partly of flat field land and partly of a slope into the adjacent wood land. In this area located between to glacial kettles, the earth freezes deep every winter and thaws, bringing rocks and stones to the surface. On the nearby farms, the farmers must pick these stones before starting work in spring, and they pile them up at the edges of their fields, thus creating fieldstone walls, witnesses of the region’s history. The architects at Bruns Architecture have imagined such a wall to anchor the house into this frozen site and to separate its flat volume and the slope volume. The main living spaces of the house are organized on two floors in the taller woodland volume, while the field volume is smaller and concentrates the support spaces under its flat roof. A wall made from time polished field stones is erected at the beginning of the slope, securing it and defining the two volumes. This wall starts outside the house and then goes in, penetrating it lengthwise and creating a strong support wall with doorway openings. It also separates the two volume visually, as they are made in different materials that balance each other. The woodland volume is mainly glass and steel, while the field volume is covered in horizontally positioned warm cedar planks.

The tall main volume has a concrete base from which the house grows on a steel and glass frame. Anthracite zinc panels hang like drapes on the façades, blurring the line between the lower and upper levels of this part of the house.
The flat-roofed field volume is connected to the main volume through an area serving also as main entry to the house. The way to the main door is guided by a row of aligned steel trellises that seem to protrude from the house, bend at 90 degrees to descend into the ground anchoring the house to it.
There is coherence in the material and color scheme of the interior. We have the massive fieldstone wall in the middle, and a cedar clad wall along the stairs to balance it. The floors are in polished concrete, and the stairs in massive wood on an anthracite steel central beam.
The tensioned steel cables of the balustrade remain very discreet, so they don’t interfere with the main scheme.
On the upper floor, the space is defined lengthwise by the fieldstone wall and width-wise by a board-formed concrete chimney separating the main living space from floor to ceiling.
The two-sided fireplace separates the living room from the kitchen and dining area. The flickering flame of the burning wood can be admired thus both from the lounge and from sitting at the table or behind the kitchen counter.
On the inside the structural frame of the windows is in wood and not in metal like on the outside, creating a warmer atmosphere. The living room is cozy with Eames lounge chairs and wooden chairs and a grey fabric sofa.
The office corner is set in a long and narrow niche, with a long L-shaped wooden desk.
The bedroom and bathroom follow in the same line, with polished concrete floors and wooden furniture in the same essence like the window frames. Thanks to the big glass surfaces all areas of this part of the house benefit from a lot of natural light and nice forest views.


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