Presented by: Carl Matthews and Scott Biehle

“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of connections is the key to quality.”
Charles Eames

Upon first view of a 22 acre property in the Ozark Mountains the designers/owners were struck by the beauty, power and serenity of the view. A gut reaction to the ideal location to build a new house was unavoidable. However, being trained to be more analytical about such decisions, they undertook a cohesive process to properly study the sun, wind, and water flow patterns of the site. After the study was complete they found their initial instinct was correct.

Friends on Facebook were curious to know what the new house would be. Not being in the mood to field comments and criticism from their largely interior design, landscape architect, and architect friend-base, they posted an image with the caption “For those who keep asking what our new house will look like, imagine if the Farnsworth House went slumming and mated with a chicken house. The mongrel offspring would be our designer hillbilly house.” The reference to the chicken house hearkened to the interior designer’s first impression of flying over the state. It is a region dominated by the chicken industry and long low metal barns dot the landscape. The house incorporates vernacular materials, simple and passive solar construction techniques, and spatial/compositional arrangements to capitalize on views. 

The concept focused on connections; physical and visual connections to the outdoors; connections from one functional interior space to another; aural connections from one end of the house to the other; and color connections to dissolve the boundary between interior and exterior. Rather than standard windows, 12 out of 13 openings in the exterior wall are 8’ high sliding glass doors. Rather than standard partitions, all interior divisions of space are birch plywood storage units with sliding barn doors that both conceal storage and provide visual privacy in sleeping and bathing spaces. 

The home is designed for aging in place. Exterior access paths are at the same level as the interior concrete slab floor. There is no curb at the shower. Ample circulation space is provided in the advent of future needs for assistive devices. Low maintenance, low cost, and material longevity were the drivers of design decisions.

Most importantly, the home is designed to connect the owners to their passions; horses and gardening. The home is designed to connect them to the earth.

The submitter of the entry was responsible for interior and architectural design; house plan, section, and perspective sketches; and all photography. The co-author of the submission is a landscape architect and was responsible for landscape design and site section. They collaborated to produce the exploded axonometric drawing.


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