November 20, 2020 § Leave a comment
By J. Michael Welton
For a new home on the Haw River in North Carolina’s Chatham County, architect Arielle Schechter found her inspiration in two places.
One was the Haw River. The other was a rock.
“Walking down by the riverbank, there were so many trees cantilevered and bent out over the river, that I said: ‘I want this house to bend out over the river too,’” she says.
She placed the home on the only buildable knoll above the Haw, since the 21-acre site slopes steeply down to a flood plain and riparian buffer below.
As for the rock, it actually was a huge granite boulder, split down the center. “It’s super-sculptural with a thin knife-blade through the middle where rainwater flows,” she says. “The idea of bisecting something appealed to me, so I did that with the butterfly roof.”
Then there was the raptor… READ MORE
September 21, 2020 § Leave a comment
This Haw Riverfront home is a secluded sanctuary nestled in untamed paradise.
Nestled along the banks of the Haw River, in stark contrast to its untamed surroundings, is Scott Zimmerman and Kate Paradis’ modern, green home [designed by Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA]. For these University of North Carolina alumni, their 21-acre piece of land is their paradise. The Propane Education & Research Council spoke to Scott about the features they love most about their “Hawsome” home and propane’s role in making their secluded sanctuary possible.
What drew you to this specific location that some might have shied away from?
You have to be there to see it. The view is unbelievable, literally, that was it. The closest neighbors are a mile away, my driveway is a mile long, you’re not here unless you’re meant to be, so there is privacy. The property is full of projects and I am retired so I have my woodworking shop, and also normal land maintenance every day. We looked for a place close to Chapel Hill that felt like it was out away from everything — rather than buying a beach house or mountain house which we’d use two or three times a year — but that was still close to town without feeling like it. We found this piece of property on the river and that’s where we are. It’s been a five-year project to get where we are now. It took 537 days to build the house, and we moved in late January before the coronavirus shutdown started. READ MORE
September 16, 2020 § Leave a comment
October 8, 2018 § Leave a comment
by Sanjay Gangal
This modern, Net Zero-Net Positive house is a customized version of one of architect Arielle Condoret Schechter’s Micropolis® houses, a collection of small, modern, sustainable house plans she continues to design that can be purchased outright or customized to accommodate specific needs.
Her clients, Cheryl and Ken Serdar, loved the original 950-square-foot Micropolis® plan she calls “Happy Family” but needed a bit more space. So Schechter enlarged it to 2222 heated square feet to include a spacious, spa-like master bathroom and a third bedroom that Cheryl will use for her office and jewelry-making studio. READ MORE
In the Ground and On the Boards: Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, Greets Spring with Modern, Custom Houses at Every Phase of Design and Construction
May 1, 2018 § Leave a comment
MASON-GRABELL MODERNISM (All renderings by Arielle Schechter)
A family of transplants from hurricane-prone Florida can’t wait for construction to begin this summer on their spacious, modern house perched on a hillside in Orange County. Cheryl and Ken Serdar are showing off their new, modern, Net Zero, Micropolis® house in Hillsborough, NC, during the 2018 Green Home Tour. And a husband and wife in Chatham County are anxious to “break free” of the “soul-deadening” confines of a cookie-cutter residential development, so they’re counting the days until they can move into their new, modern, Net Zero house also nearing completion in Chatham County.
Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, a Net Zero/Net Positive Passive House expert*, designed all three houses.
Meanwhile back in her studio, Schechter is moving along with six more projects that span the first three phases of architectural design: schematic design, design development, and construction documentation.
Mason-Grabell Modernism (pictured at top)
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on the spacious Mason-Grabell house. The family grew tired of fighting hurricanes down in Florida so they relocated to Chapel Hill, NC, where hurricanes are extremely rare.
Rising from a hillside with large expanses of glass on all sides, the Mason-Grabel house features flat, cascading roofs that crown specific interior spaces. Designed to touch the ground lightly and protect the site’s natural hydrology, “Mason-Grabell Modernism” will be one of very few modernist houses in its neighborhood.
Net Zero on Tour
“HAPPY FAMILY” (photo by Iman Woods)
Schechter always stresses that a smaller house allows homeowners to invest their money in elements other than square footage. In the Serdars’ house (above), that other element is a luxurious, spa-like bathroom with a curb-less walk-in shower for two, a custom cast-concrete trough sink, and a vanity area where top-quality tile rises up the high walls to the ceiling.
Otherwise, the Serdars’ relatively small house is deceptive. It appears to be a simple modern house with large, honey-hued wood soffits adding warmth and textural contrast to the precast custom concrete exterior walls. But this is a Net Zero passive house. And the design skills, technological and materials knowledge, and attention to details necessary to create such a high-performance house are anything but “simple.”
*Schechter welcomes the challenge, however, as she continues to add to her growing portfolio of certified Net Zero and Net Positive, Passive residential designs with what she’s dubbed the “Happy Family” house.
“They consider themselves ‘escapees’ from a rigid, traditional development to a lot in the woods,” Schechter said, referring to her clients who are moving out of a traditional development and into this secluded, Net Zero house (above) in the forest in Chatham County. (She noted that “breaking free” and “soul-deadening” are her clients’ words.)
Besides the huge emphasis on privacy, the couple told their architect that they wanted a “modern but simple, unpretentious, age-in-place design.” And they had one specific request. “A sheltered place to sit outside and watch the rain,” Schechter said as she pointed out the house’s deeply cantilevered roof.
Concurrently, Arielle Schechter is working through the schematic design phase for a house for two engineers in Harnett County. She’s also fine-tuning three houses in design development and shepherding two other houses through the construction documentation phase.
For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter and to see additional examples of her built and on-the-boards work, visit www.acsarchitect.com.
January 2, 2017 § Leave a comment
Arielle Condoret Schechter amps up the style.
January 2, 2017 (Chapel Hill, NC) – When Chapel Hill-based architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, was asked to renovate a mid-century modern house in Durham, she quickly realized that her task would be to interject some of the key features of mid-century modern design that this 1940s house was actually lacking. And, in doing so, she would create an appropriate setting for an icon of modern furniture design.
One of the primary elements of mid-century residential design is an innovative floor plan in which living spaces flow seamlessly and cohesively into each other. This house didn’t have that element, so Schechter opened up the interior to connect, rather than divide, the kitchen, dining, and living areas. A new window expands the view of the surrounding garden and forest in keeping with mid-century modern design’s emphasis on connectivity with the outdoors.
Many modern houses of that era also featured at least one special interior detail, such as an open-tread staircase, decorative concrete block screening, or an exposed brick wall, for example. This house needed a special detail “to amp up the style factor,” Schechter said. So she removed the faux-black stone around the fireplace in the living area and replaced it with floor-to-ceiling Heath Ceramics Dimensional tile. “Then we added down lighting to show off the sculptural form of the tile and to bring a sense of light and shadow to the new fireplace face,” Schechter said.
Now the new open living/dining space, filled with natural light, is also a fitting backdrop for a spectacular piece of mid-century modern furniture: the homeowners’ original “Conoid Bench” by Japanese-American woodworker/architect, George Nakashima.
In the kitchen, Schechter corrected a combination of painted and wood cabinets by specifying cherry flush overlay cabinetry to provide a much-needed streamlined look: Flush overlay cabinet doors align on all four sides with the edges of the framework. The cherry wood adds an element of warmth in keeping with the mid-century modern era. The back splash is white Heath subway tile.
“I understand them so well,” she said, “which is why I enjoy helping people renovate, remodel, and update their mid-century modern houses. I do it for the love of the design and to feel connected with the living, breathing ideas with which these houses still pulse. This renovation was done on a tight budget, but we were still able to inject style and function into this little house.”
For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter, visit www.acsarchitect.com.
July 1, 2016 § 1 Comment
June 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
April 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
The professor/author wanted to build “Little Paws,” one of Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter’s collection of tiny, modern, sustainable house plans she sells under the registered trademark Micropolis Houses®. But at 1059 square feet, “Little Paws” only had room for two bedrooms.
“And she needed three bedrooms,” Schechter said. “So ‘Little Paws’ quickly morphed into a custom small house – a sort of custom Micropolis®, if you will. But it’s still way under the size of the average American house, which is 2500 square feet. This house is still only 1679 square feet.”
Construction should begin soon in Chapel Hill on Schechter’s not-quite-so-tiny house, which remains true to the original modern design with its rhythmic volumes, crisp geometry, flat rooflines and extra bedroom. Packing a lot of punch into its modest envelope, this small custom-designed home includes an open great room and dining area, a “super-functional” working kitchen, Schechter said, a study, a guest suite and additional bedroom, plus a master suite complete with Japanese Ofuro soaking tub.
As with all of her residential projects, Arielle Schechter prioritizes natural light inside and spectacular spaces outside to encourage the connection between indoors and outdoors. In this case, those spaces are a screen porch, terrace, and pool, all of which overlook a natural creek. An abundance of windows, including corner glass, offers constant views of the outdoors. Deep roof overhangs protect the glass from the high summer sun – one of the many green building principles Schechter utilized for this project.
An advocate of age-in-place architecture, Schechter also made sure “Little Paws” was adaptable to universal design even though the original plan was intended as a raised pier house. The professor welcomed the adaptation, Schechter said, so that this will be her last home.
Years in the making: Tiny homes are growing increasingly popular today, but Arielle Schechter didn’t design Micropolis Houses® to jump on the bandwagon. Growing up in North Carolina, she realized that the mobile homes scattered or clumped together across North Carolina filled the need for small housing options but had no design integrity, they were usually made of poor materials, and she couldn’t see how they contributed to their owners’ quality of life. So a few years ago she began working on an alternative and Micropolis Houses® were born – quality, architect-designed house plans that range from 150 to 1500 square feet and can be customized to meet specific buyers’ needs and preferences.
For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter, the Micropolis Houses® and all of her work, visit www.acsarchitect.com.