On a hillside meadow in rural Vermont, local architecture firm Birdseye has completed Bank Barn, a new residence that, from afar, might look like any another agricultural building. But it is actually a modern farmhouse strategically engineered to meet future net-zero energy targets. The architects drew inspiration from the regional farm structures built into the banks of hills to create the gabled dwelling, which is clad in weathered cedar and topped with a durable metal roof. An intensive energy consultation and modeling informed all parts of the design. The resulting project features an electricity-based energy system that is expected to achieve net-zero energy operations, pending a future 18 kW solar array.
Set into a steep slope, the 4,566-square-foot Bank Barn comprises three levels with the lowest floor — containing the garage, pool room and support spaces — below grade and flanked by two 160-foot linear concrete retaining walls. The long walls support an extended plinth for the floor above that houses an open-plan living area, kitchen and dining room with access to the rear outdoor deck as well as a spacious office that looks out over a green roof atop the garage. A central, freestanding steel staircase leads up to the three en suite bedrooms located on the upper floor.
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Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass surround the home, filling the interior with natural light and uninterrupted views of the outdoors. To keep the focus on the landscape, the architects used a subdued palette of exposed steel, plaster, concrete and wood for the minimalist and modern interiors.
“Early in the design process, the house was modeled to assess the design in terms of energy efficiency, thermal comfort and visual comfort,” the architects explained. As a result, the home boasts an airtight envelope with thermally separated r-40 walls, an r-60 roof, closed-cell polyurethane foam cavities and triple-glazing throughout. The house draws power from geothermal heating and cooling through water-to-water and water-to-air systems as well as heat recovery ventilators.
Photography by Jim Westphalen Photography via Birdseye