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A minimal glass house is in perfect harmony with nature in the Berkshires

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The homeowners were looking to minimalize their life, commissioning Specht Architects to design a minimal glass house with 360 views amidst a 9.75-acre field in the Berkshires. This glass-framed austere dwelling is a complete 180 from their previous ornate and fanciful cluttered home — an 18th-century historic mansion on a large 40-acre property in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

They decided they wanted to make a dramatic post-retirement change by simplifying and downsizing their lives. Embracing a minimalist, modern, aesthetic in their new living space of 2,000 square feet. The owners opted to keep and display the priceless art, antiques, and found objects collected over the course of their lives. This presented a unique architectural challenge of how to merge these contradictory aesthetics.

DESIGN DETAILS: ARCHITECT Specht Architects INTERIOR DESIGN By Owners BUILDER Greg Wellenkamp STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Barry Engineers LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Wagner Hodgson

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The property site was also unique. When selling off most of their original 40-acre estate, they kept a 9.75-acre parcel on which to build the new home. It was largely a fallow agricultural parcel fringed by large old-growth trees.

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The property site was a huge open field serving as a blank canvas for anything Specht Architects proposed. 

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“The architectural solution started with the approach sequence. From the main road, the property is entered through a grove of large trees and after cresting a gentle rise in the land, a pastoral field opens up before you,”  says Scott Specht, founding principal, of Specht Architects.

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“We decided to make the most of this procession by locating the house at the far end of the field, as distant from the entry as possible. We also created a symmetrical house that is oriented on the axis with the entry road, so that as you emerge from the trees you see a perfectly balanced composition before you.”

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The house itself is an extreme departure from the owner’s previous residence. It is a 2,000-square-foot single-story pavilion that is largely glass, with a thin floating roof that cantilevers 15’ from the perimeter walls.

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This provides protection from the sun and wind, limiting the need for AC and heating. A wraparound porch mirrors the roof and also “floats” above the landscape.

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The interior is very open and spacious as the living, dining, and kitchen space form the center of the house with a bedroom suite on each end. 

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The house is a gallery for the owners’ vast collections. The finishes include huge, seamless porcelain wall and floor surfaces, and European oak cabinetry throughout, sleek quartz in the kitchen.

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Lighting is provided by tiny, high-output recessed LED fixtures that are nearly invisible. Light switches, outlets, and other devices are concealed to allow for as pristine a space as possible.

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The contrast of this minimalism with the heavy collection of ornate art and objects is dramatic and adds to the otherworldly aspect of the house. In-wall built-in storage holds many additional objects so that the owners can rotate the collection frequently.

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“We always questioned ourselves if we were up to the challenge of a new project and a new way of life, especially in our retirement. We evolved and refined our goals, becoming much more minimal — leaving behind all window treatments, privacy, the clutter of wall switches and have embraced a new world of induction ovens, Google control lighting, and an app-controlled house,” says homeowner, Patrick Annunziata.

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“Scott gave us the suggestions and avenues of how to best utilize the homeowners’ antiques —- such as the 16th and 17th century forged fireside/kitchen tools hanging on the master bathroom wall and the ‘ Pantry Gallery Wall’ of the 17th, 18th, 19th-century paintings. He created the corridor closets (behind the 10’ doors) where the overflow of precious personal treasures could be stored on glass shelves with LED  lighting, ‘showing off ‘ for all to enjoy. Our minimal modern glass house does not feel minimal, but rather spiritual. The living experience is full and ever-changing with the seasons, weather, and daily animal activity,” says Patrick.

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What We Love: We are loving how the homeowners made a dramatic post-retirement change by embracing minimalism and downsizing their lives. It’s inspiring to see their willingness to let go of their previous ornate mansion and opt for a minimalist dwelling that is a complete departure from their past lifestyle. The design of this minimal glass house is both innovative and captivating, providing a seamless indoor-outdoor connection.

Tell Us: What are your overall thoughts on the design of this modern dwelling? Let us know in the Comments below!

Note: Have a look at a couple of other incredible home tours that we have featured here on One Kindesign in the state of Massachusetts: Modern countryside retreat nestled on idyllic landscape in the Berkshires and Rustic-modern house organically forms into hillside in the Berkshires.

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PHOTOGRAPHER Dror Baldinger

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One Kindesign has received this project from our submissions page. If you have a project you would like to submit, please visit our submit your work page for consideration!

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KrissyB
1 year ago

The juxtaposition of the 18th century art and the minimalist house and finishes is stunning. Well done!