New York architect Maria Milans del Bosch has designed a house and studio for herself in the Catskills with interventions that are mindful of the natural setting. The house is called Camp O.
The home, which has a long and narrow footprint, is also nestled into a hillside to minimize the impact of construction on the surrounding forest. Two different volumes form the dwelling and are topped with roofs that slant in opposite directions. A concrete slab and a U-shaped retaining wall form the lower level, while the upper portion of the home is clad in cedar. The wood is charred using a Japanese technique called shou sugi ban that burns wood to protect it from damage caused by insects, water and fire.
A feature of the design is a double-height living room and kitchen that is flanked with large portions of glazing. It is placed at different levels to capture views to the mountains to the west and treetops to the east. Inside the home, structural wood beams, the slanting roof covered in wood and concrete base are all left exposed. These simple materials were chosen to reflect neighboring barns. On the first floor is an office space for the architect that peers down into the living room and overlooks the expansive views outside. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a reading nook are also on the first floor.
The glazing is also strategically placed to optimize natural ventilation and light, while insulation is applied to the exterior sides of walls and the roof to bolster the energy efficiency of the house. Camp O is complete with radiant floors and Viroc, a composite material made of cement and wood fibre that has a good thermal lag and is water-resistant, used in several rooms.