Under Construction

November 1, 2018 § 1 Comment

Front with Veil

On the front of the house, a “veil” of cypress slats softens its presence within the wooded setting.


The couple was determined to escape the traditional, “soul-deadening” (their words) development where they lived. So when they met with Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, they told her they were ready for a very private, secluded setting in the woods and a simple, modern, age-in-place house with every square foot custom-designed for their lifestyle rather than “the community’s.”

“We want a house just for the two of us,” they said. “We don’t want to socialize. We want to be left alone to enjoy our life.”

They also wanted the house to be Net Zero — using only as much energy as it produces by renewable methods — and knew Schechter specializes in modern Net Zero/Net Positive residential design. Another special request: Their new home must include a protected place where they can “sit outside and watch the rain.”

The house they described is nearing completion now on a secluded site in Chatham County. It’s a simple, compact house for two, plus a small bedroom for the homeowners’ son when he visits. The simple form, elevated where necessary to follow the natural contours of the land, is composed of three rectilinear volumes. Each volume is defined by its individual flat roof. Roof overhangs around the entire house protect the windows and the large expanses of glass that provide constant visual contact with the natural wooded setting.

Rear with colorOn the southern elevation, the house “is free to burst forth with colors and light.”


At the front of the house facing the approaching road, Schechter created a “veil” of cypress slats that soften its presence within the wooded setting. She limited glazing to two horizontal windows tucked up under the roof’s broad overhang.

For the completely private southern elevation, however, the house “is free to burst forth with colors and light,” she explained. The blocks of primary colors there are also architectural elements, recalling the Netherlands-based De Stijl movement of the mid-1900s. De Stijl devotees believed that harmony and order could only be achieved by reducing elements to pure geometric forms and primary colors – a very fitting idea for this house, she believes.

At the central volume is a large, deeply cantilevered roof that reaches out to the south. It shades walls of glass there and provides shelter for a very private back porch where husband and wife will be able to “sit outside and watch the rain.”

Towards achieving Net Zero, Schechter oriented the house to maximize solar gain, natural light, and natural ventilation (the latter when weather permits). She is also combining a small solar array on the roof with an over-abundance of insulation, sealed air gaps, an Energy Recovery Ventilator, cement board exterior cladding, windows, and doors certified for passive house construction, and the roof overhangs – all to assure that the house will produce as much energy as it needs.

Inside, zero thresholds, curb-free showers, and oversized doorways will be part of what will make this an age-in-place home.

A Modern Cabin Grows in Orange CountyModern Cabin Rendering


Also under construction now in central Orange County is the “Modern Cabin” Schechter has designed for a couple from San Francisco (rendering above).

Schechter has created a variety of spaces for the cabin suited to different moods, types of gathering, and connectivity.  A lofty living/dining space will connect on the second floor to a balcony for the upstairs bedrooms. The balcony will provide visual and social connection to the lower level.

The kitchen is also connected to the main space but tucked under the second floor on the north. Bright red tiles will give the kitchen visual warmth and energy, making it an inviting space for cooking and gathering.

The living/dining area, master bedroom, and office/study will have south-facing windows for natural light and views of the woods.

“My firm treasures southern lighting,” Schechter noted. “So we always give interior spaces as much natural light from the south as possible.

Newphire Building is the contractor for the cabin.

For more information on these are other houses by Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, visit www.arcarchitect.com

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