Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Modern in the Mountains
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to visit Common Pond in the North Georgia mountains near Blue Ridge. My enterprising mother-in-law arranged a tour for us on Saturday with the self-described developer-slash-realtor Gary Kaupman. Though we are not currently interested in purchasing, he was gracious enough to meet us on a rainy Saturday and give us a tour of three of the homes in this "ecologically intelligent development". Gary was part of the driving force that brought these homes to life in the mountains- scouting for land, interviewing residents about what they liked and disliked about their mountain homes and bringing together architects and designers to realize his vision. In talking with him, we could see that he really has a keen sense of the balance between aesthetics (how can you make a building seem to rise from the landscape as if it were a part of it?), ingenuity, and the restraints of a budget. Many of the homes were built for less than $150/sq.ft. which makes the possibility of a weekend or permanent home in the mountains much more realistic. The footprints were kept small but the amenities were plush to say the least. It looked like those inhabiting the homes truly enjoyed them but also made use of their location in the mountains, close to hiking trails, mountain biking, white-water rafting and of course fishing in the amazing nearby rivers and streams. The houses, designed by Houser Walker Architecture in Atlanta and Gregory La Vadera in Merchantsville, New Jersey are energy efficient and low-maintenance and much attention was paid to features like natural light and orientation on the land. While each home takes from a kit-of-parts in architectural language, they are definitely individualized to their site and inhabitants. The name Common Pond refers to the spring-fed pond which all residents share (seen in the photo above). Each lot maintains mountain views without complete disruption of the trees and contours of the land. I loved that some of the red trim on some of the exteriors picked up the red in the leaves. I also liked the use of Hardi-plank applied in varying directions on the exterior, and we all loved the Hardi-plank used in some of the bathrooms, painted with a glossy finish. I think what the team has accomplished so far is very successful in terms of their mission of ecologically-intelligent. We all left saying that we would love to live in a house like one of those at Common Pond, and as an architect, I was so pleased to know that Modern in the Mountains isn't so far-fetched afterall. See my next post for more photos. Please visit their website to read more about Common Pond. My write-up hasn't done it justice as far as the amenities are concerned, but I hope that some of my photos inspire readers to visit or seek something similar in their area.