House 432 answers a common riddle of contemporary architectural practice: “how do you design a home that looks unique, but not out of place—how do you understand context without being a slave to it?” The house is designed to be flexible: for a family of 5 and for a party of 100. The main living space is loft-like and blends the kitchen, dining, and living areas. On the second floor an outdoor room, with four walls but no roof, provides natural light deep into the house and enables natural ventilation by acting like a thermal chimney.
The house is located on the top of a four-acre site in Katonah, New York. This location in the Hudson Valley is a transition between suburban developments and rural upstate New York. The property was cleaved from the 60 acre John Jay Homestead historic site in the 1950s and the geometry of the new house, garage, and site elements are consistent with the scale and orientation of Jay’s abandoned stone and wood barns. The house is L-shaped to create a natural sound barrier from distant highway noises, and all bedrooms face into the quiet courtyard.
Construction included a reinforced cast concrete foundation with steel structure at 14’ centers to allow for column free spaces in the basement and first floor, and maximum future flexibility on the second floor. Walls are wood frame with continuous exterior waterproofing and insulation. Thermal comfort is achieved through a radiant heat system of hydronic pipes set into cast concrete floors on all levels. The house construction is very tight, and a heat recovery ventilator provides makeup air and energy efficiency.
The simple geometries of the plan, combined with a planning grid of 42” x 42”, provides subtle spatial complexity while creating a series of peaceful moments throughout the house. The house maximizes the use of thermal mass (concrete structure) to reduce the demands on mechanical equipment and energy use. Footings extend down to suitable soils creating a distance of 5’-0” between the basement slab and the bottom of the footing. Because the foundation wall is insulated, this distance decreases the amount of thermal transfer into and out of the basement level spaces.