Pastoral Perfection - Design Bureau

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Pastoral Perfection

Friday, October 18th, 2013

By Ann Chou
Photos by Maxwell MacKenzie, Architectural Photographer 

The Becherer House, designed by award-winning Washington, D.C. architect Robert Gurney, sits on a pasture with an effortless air typical of great architecture. Located on an idyllic property two and a half hours from D.C., the house is a second home for a small family of horse riders. Inspired by another of the architect’s projects (a modern addition to a farmhouse) the homeowners wanted to build a house that abstracted traditional rural elements in a modern way and included open-plan living spaces that opened up to the magnificent views.

Gurney found the perfect spot on the property—between the woodland to the north and the pasture to the south—that would put the beautiful surroundings center-stage. He then designed the structure to take advantage of the views. Laid out in a U-shape along a strong axis, the house comprises three linked gable-roofed pavilions. Inside, Gurney met the owners’ request for open-plan living by creating a one-room, deep, double-height central living space that is flanked by an entrance and screened porch on one end and bedrooms on the other. “I like the fact that you can be in the main living space and have both a wooded view and a pasture view,” says Gurney. “It sets up for two very distinct visual experiences.”

Throughout the house, Gurney used large expanses of glass, including glass walls inset with smaller operable windows, wherever he could to frame views of the outside and let in light year-round. To further emphasize the surrounding landscape of green pasture, blue sky, and the warm colors of the woodland, Gurney and his wife, an interior designer, chose an understated and minimal palette of natural materials for the interior. “They are all intended to be background to the windows and views,” Gurney says. Which makes sense given the home’s idyllic surroundings. Because even though great architecture is mean to be admired, Gurney understands that location is as important in creating an impact. “These spaces are about the view.”

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